There are several issues concerning composting which were not addressed in the “Boise vows …” article.
Due to the continued use of long acting residual herbicide/pesticides in Idaho, compost derived from unknown sources may have residual herbicides/pesticides which either stunt or kill most plants. It could be used as a lawn fertilizer but application would be very time consuming and probably more expensive than conventional lawn fertilizer.
If the compost is being sold, sampling of the compost for residual herbicides would be necessary or a written disclaimer indicating that residual herbicides and pesticides might be in the compost. Without this, the city could be subject to legal action. In light of the cost of periodic sampling for residual herbicides/pesticides, it is unlikely that sampling will be done.
Commercial and residential gardeners are unlikely to use city derived compost without the analysis, particularly if they have an ongoing composting program. Hay, alfalfa, and animal producers might use the compost but the city would be in direct competition with large agricultural compost producers located in Jerome and elsewhere in Idaho.
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Although in general composting is ecologically sound, its use to reduce landfill volume may have major unintended consequences and costs.
John L. Boice, Boise