Accurate compost maturity testing
Solvita® puts the key to rapid, reliable compost maturity testing in your hands. With no chemistry skills or training, you can get a fast, accurate read on compost stability. Use Solvita to help ensure compost quality by providing useful information about the entire composting process:
- Monitor the process on-site
- Gauge the end of composting
What does the Solvita compost maturity test measure?
Solvita measures two compounds, carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3), which are often connected to volatile compost emissions and can be a predictor of instability. Toward the end of composting, low levels of CO2 and ammonia are expected. High release of either or both gases indicates an unstable and possibly odorous condition associate with very actively degrading compost. The Solvita test measures both gases and makes it easy to interpret results with the Compost Maturity Index that is used to determine where on the scale your soil falls. For improved accurate reading, a Digital Color reader may be used.
Why measure both CO2 and NH3?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3) are the two most common gases released during composting. While CO2 alone is odorless and non-toxic, composts with high CO2 respiration have:
- High heating potential
- High odor release
- High oxygen depletion
Likewise, elevated ammonia levels may indicate:
- A workplace hazard (while turning composts or storing compost indoors)
- Potential plant and animal harm
Plus, our field research shows that compost that is not fully matured is also unstable, possibly very odorous and is capable of causing depression of plant growth by depleting soil-pore space oxygen. The test can be a very reliable and important yardstick for factors that impact soils and plants.
The Solvita ammonia test is also useful alone to estimate volatile ammonia in manures, sludges and composts.
How is the Solvita maturity test different from other compost tests?
Solvita is a volumetric procedure, which means it measures respiration and emissions per unit volume of compost and not per unit weight, which is customary if a sample is sent to a laboratory. The advantage of measuring respiration per unit volume is that the results are relevant for growing media and constructed soils. Under virtually all circumstances where compost use is fairly heavy, the impact on soil ecology is governed largely by gas exchange per unit volume.
How does the Solvita compost test work?
Solvita Chemistry Gels react to the concentration of CO2 and NH3 gases. Conducting the compost test is easy:
- Simply take a sample of compost by filling the test jar to volume
- Insert the Solvita paddle and seal the container.
- Allow the container to rest for 4 hours.
- Read the compost maturity test results and compare the paddles color to color chart. For further accuracy, compare paddles to Digital Color Reader.
What does the Compost Maturity Index include?
Each Solvita Compost Test includes six CO2 and six NH3 test strips, incubation jars and an instruction manual that gives guidelines for proper use of compost products at each level of maturity and activity.
For more information, call 800-451-0337. To order a Compost Test Kit, visit our store.