Project Objectives and Project Structure
The West Marin Compost Project will demonstrate the viability of composting as a tool for enhancing the environmental and economic sustainability of agriculture and other natural resource management and utilization activities in West Marin and beyond. The Project provides an innovative and comprehensive solution to multiple significant natural resource concerns in rural West Marin by:
1) producing approximately 20,000 cubic yards of compost annually and reducing the need for imported fertilizers, feed, and bedding material for traditional livestock producers;
2) providing organic compost for the burgeoning organic ranching and farming community of West Marin;
3) assisting producers to meet current and future TMDL requirements through enhanced soil water and nutrient holding capacity and;
4)controlling the processing of up to 36,000 cubic yards annually of nutrient rich and pathogen-bearing organic materials, including approximately 12,000 cubic yards of dairy manure and equal amounts of both equestrian and green wastes, to an environmentally beneficial material.
Co-composting dairy waste with low bulk-density equestrian and green wastes will increase the pathogen reduction efficacy of the composting process and produce a bedding material with absorbency characteristics superior to that of dairy waste separator solids alone. Replacing sand with locally-produced compost as a dairy bedding material will have the added benefit of reducing air quality and economic costs associated with hauling imported bedding materials from outside Marin County, reduce wear and tear on manure pumping equipment, and allow both recycling of bedding materials and soil improvement via use of compost fines as a soil amendment. Centralizing the composting process will enable purchase of appropriate composting equipment, prohibitively expensive for individual dairy operators.
The Project is a public-private partnership between Lunny Grading and Paving, Inc., Lafranchi Dairy and Marin County, with technical assistance from University of California Cooperative Extension, Marin Organic, the Marin Agricultural Commissioner and the West Marin Compost Coalition, and administrative assistance from the Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service-Conservation Innovation Grant funding for the Project will support start-up costs and initial marketing and educational costs. The long-term economic viability of the Project is dependent upon tipping fees associated with the green waste drop-off site operation and the sale of compost. The Project is expected to be economically self-sustaining by the end of year three.