Compost Leachate

DALTONS (expressed as: 'Da')

Dalton is the measurement standard used to measure the size of atoms. More on Dalton later...

DISSOLVED ORGANIC MATTER (expressed as DOM)

DOM does not include suspended/colloidal particulate matter. More on DOM and OM later...

This topic begins by first presenting a scientific report about leachate - mainly because ALL composters should be able to say that they have 'reviewed' a scientific report about "leachate" - about which, this report is 'typical'.

Secondly, ONLY quickly scan pages 27-39 of the following scientific report.
Do not attempt to actually read it, for several reasons:
1) because unless you made straight A's in advanced chemistry, it may make you permanently 'cross-eyed'.
2) as the first sentence of the Executive Summary states: it's only a RE-HASH of their selection of previously-published information - meaning that there is no new scientific evidence in this report.
3) this study (as in almost all research studies about leachate) is mainly concerned with 'heavy metals' and synthetic Ag chemical pesticides that might leach into soil and/or water tables - i.e., bad things - so the report contains not even one mention of the benefits of leachate derived from high-quality compost.
4) the compost used for testing was commercially-produced (meaning poor quality) using Municipal Solid Waste and sewage sludge known to contain high amounts of heavy metals (which few 'backyard' composters have access to) - and also, in this case - the compost feedstock recipe also contained 15% tobacco plant residues - which again, is NOT available to persons who produce high-quality compost via intensive management.
5) this report is not correlated with any plant-growth parameters - which is what GOOD compost leachate is all about. Nature has a rule: "plants can not lie - so if one wants to know how a plant responds to a given product - give it some. It will tell you, IF' you know it's 'language'...

With that understanding, click the link below: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/819.1.pdf

Having scanned those 13 pages, you should "have a better idea" of what one group of researchers from Washington University, has to say about BAD compost leachate. If you are really 'into' scientific reports, then sure, go ahead and read the entire scientific study - I highly recommend doing so IF you have any intention of selling some of your leachate to anyone.

For the readers who don't appreciate such "technical report" writing style - I'll do my best to explain it to you without most of the technical jargon (except the ones you need to know) - and apply that information to HOW a leachate blend is made correctly and HOW to use it properly - information that you won't find in any existing scientific report.

So why is compost leachate not promoted more?

If you have been composting for awhile - and are fairly "well-read" on the subject, don't you find it interesting that you almost never read about the benefits of compost leachate (as Nature's plant fertilizer) in mainstream books, articles and even by state Agricultural Extension Services?
Ever wonder why? As indicative of this scientific report, it's mostly because in both the commercial and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) industry - the word "leachate" is a 'bad word'. Negative reputation. Why? Because leachate, in the MSW industry - is, scientifically - AWFUL stuff. Landfill leachate being the worst. And leachate from raw sewage waste (Oh - excuse me - 'bio-solids' is the 'new name' so people won't think the U.S. Composting Council is 'pushing' a bad product on the public...) is not far behind.
Leachate is something the MSW industry (regulated by a state environmental agency) does not talk about to "the public" unless 'forced' to do so. And the Agricultural Extension Service (being a state agency pawn), doesn't want to "step on any MSW toes"...
And same goes for the global pollution and erosion woes created by the greedy Ag synthetic chemical companies that donate $$millions annually into land grant (& other) university coffers to keep them 'resistant' to researching and promulgating large-scale organic Ag practices.

All of which, is the main basis of state government's penchant to "play politics" - to 'cover their own ass' for failure to be more proactive about ensuring citizen health.
If agencies talked about GOOD leachate - they'd also raise questions about BAD leachate - from their own poor waste management practices - that endanger human health. Go figure...

I've spent over 60 years engendering highest-quality composting (quality expressed as the health of Nature's synergistic microbiological community that performs 95+% of the feedstock decomposition (nutrient-cycling & disease control) process. I'm not one of the scientists that knows the most about who those tiny critters are - or what they can do as a synergistic community - but I am one of the very few that knows enough about that community - and Nature's 'rules' - to take Nature's microbial benefits out of the lab and into the field - at 500 hectares/day - to bring microbial health back to 'bad dirt' quickly and cost-effectively - to grow thriving plants in that dirt again.

As a scientist/researcher/inventor/product developer, I focus attention on the scientific community pertaining to this realm. And have yet to see any complete scientific report about the benefits of good compost/vermicompost leachate from a microorganism or edible plant perspective.
Mostly because such studies are very expensive - to the point only the government (via USDA grant) or a pentamillionaire can pay for a full study. So until I meet a super-wealthy person who cares to fund a portion of such study, I will continue to seek award of a federal grant to make it happen, in conjunction with an organically-minded university Ag department leader such as Texas State University's Dr. Tina Cade.

When that happens, it will change the face of the commercial and private composting industries - because it will change the mentality of the organic product consumers toward understanding how Nature functions to grow enough food for this planet's human/livestock populations.

Even more reason - that the SoilGuy's science-based; no BS; "get-down-n'dirty" / "plants can't lie" 'how-to' approach - should the reasons you should commit to learning and following the guidelines posted on this site.
And because intensively-managed composting achieves the 1) highest quality, via the 2) easiest methods, in the 3) shortest time and at the 4) least cost.
And that's just for starters...

GOOD leachate from compost (and vermicompost) is an essential part of composting science and the art of organically feeding plants - so they can achieve their highest genetic potential (thrive).

Another focus of intensive compost management by 'state of the art' leaders is the continuous striving to cost-effectively automate the process (as much as possible). I am proud to be one of those leaders.

TO BE CONTINUED...

COMPOST CONTAINMENTS
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COMPOST PILES
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