This manual supersedes all previous manuals entitled "Leaf Composting Manual for New Jersey Municipalities". Scientific and technological advances made it necessary to bring the manual up to date. Previous manuals focused primarily on leaves. This revision provides information on the latest recognized technology for leaf and yard trimming composting applications. This manual also provides more information on the management of other yard trimmings, particularly grass clippings.

This manual serves as a useful tool when planning for a leaf and/or vegetative trimmings composting facility on a local, county or regional level; however, we must not ignore the continued benefits of, backyard composting (source reduction). Backyard composting has been widely practced and well accepted for many years. Residents can help our local government by reducing organic (leaf and other yard trimmings) materials at the source through home composting practices. Since leaves in New Jersey are already required to be composted or recycled, backyard composting of other organics naturally follows. Besides, by composting source separated organics and yard trimmings, a rich end product becomes readily available for immediate application around the home and yard.

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PREFACE to the Previous Versions

Leaves fallen to the floor of a forest or woodland undergo a slow process of decomposition. This is brought about through the action of numerous organisms, with microorganisms (including many different kinds of bacteria, fungi and protozoa) playing a dominant role. Forest litter, consisting of partially decomposed material, represents an intermediate step in the process. Eventually, a thoroughly decomposed state is reached, and the organic residue becomes part of the soil. The nutrients that were formerly in the leaves may now be available to plants, closing the cycle of growth and decay.

In contrast, leaves collected in developed residential areas represent a waste management problem. The "easy solution" of open burning was banned by New Jersey air pollution regulations in 1972. This action put an additional burden on landfills and could similarly strain alternate approaches to solid waste management now being considered throughout the State.

Like leaves in the forest, those collected from developed areas also can be decomposed microbially and the organic residue returned to the soil. However, the leaves must be processed in concentrated form, the decomposition accelerated, and residue deliberately applied to the soil. This cycle can be accomplished economically by means of the composting process linked to a compost use program.

This manual is designed to help municipalities in the establishment and operation of leaf composting facilities and programs for use of the compost. It employs the best available scientific information to find technically simple, cost-effective solutions that may be implemented by municipal personnel. Underlying principles are first explained so that the basis of the "how-to" recommendations may be understood. In this manner, the composting operation may be flexibly adapted to meet site-specific needs.

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Special acknowledgment is made of the work of graduate assistants William Schulz and Eric Zwerling, whose research provides much of the new technical information included in this manual. We also would like to thank all of the people at the field sites, particularly Don Hansen and Ned Scannel of the Joyce Kilmer Composting Facility, Alan C. Little of Morris County, and Maft Vastano of Middlebush Compost, Inc. who graciously allowed us access and provided needed equipment and manpower. We also owe a great deal to the energy and insight of Clarence "Pete" Peterson of Morris County, and note his passing with deep sadness. For their technical assistance we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Harry Motto, Pegi Ballister-Howells, Jonathon Forsell, Daniel Stein, Keun Chan Oh and Roy Meyer. Ellen McShane-Fox, Brian Petitt, Vivette S. Walker, Patricia Ferriola, Timothy Bartle, and Helen Kushner of New Jersey Department of Environmental ProtectionDivision of Solid and Hazardous Waste also made important contributions. Joan Gross and Edith Cheek typed much of this new version. We sincerely thank Dr. Donn A. Derr of Rutgers University for contributing the Addendum on the economics of composting.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, the Montclair Organizations for Conservation, and Essex County sponsored field and laboratory studies which provided much of the information incorporated in the original manual. We continue to thank the following people for assisting in those studies and with the preparation of the original manual: Richard M. Abramowitz, Jeffrey Callahan, Jean Clark, Jae-Chun Chung, Mark DiDomenico, Steven W. Fass, Franklin B. Flower, Jonathan H. Forsell, Roger M. Guttentag, John A. Hogan, Ming-Huei (Phillip) Liu, Frederick C. Miller, Paul Pefto, Mary T. Sheil, Aletha Spang, James J. Stefel and Michael Winka.

This work was supported and funded by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (Publication No. H-07526-2-92), supported by State funds.

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