Friday, June 13, 2014

Whitworth University implements compost tea program


Facilities services hopes to eliminate artificial fertilizers and herbicides

Whitworth Facilities Services is implementing a compost tea program as part of the university’s commitment toward a more sustainable campus. Using tea as fertilizer may seem unusual, but compost tea, once applied to the ground, works to create healthier soil. The compost tea program will provide a more economical and sustainable way to fertilize the campus grounds, and will allow the university to phase out synthetic fertilizers.

“Our team hopes to eventually see the complete elimination of artificial fertilizers and herbicides used on campus,” says Fred Johnston, Whitworth resource conservation manager. “We want the Whitworth community to enjoy a healthier landscape that is just as beautiful as it is today.”

Compost tea comprises humic acid, fish fertilizer, molasses, kelp meal and specially mixed compost. The ingredients are brewed and aerated for 24 hours in a homemade compost tea machine, based on a similar model used at Harvard University.

“The compost tea program seeks to increase the long-term health of the Whitworth campus grounds,” Johnston says. “Our campus is known for its great outdoor environment. We are increasing the soil biodiversity in order to sustainably maintain a healthy, rich landscape that allows plants and trees to flourish and be enjoyed.”

To educate the Whitworth and Spokane communities on the compost tea program, facilities services has invited soil microbiologist Elaine Ingham, founder of Soil Foodweb, Inc., to campus to share her expertise in fall 2014. Ingham will speak on the compost tea program and will host an educational workshop to help further develop the program at Whitworth.