The safe use of compost

While many are aware of the risks and controls in place surrounding the production and use of composted soil amendments (CSA), BioCarbon Soil offers peace of mind backed by experience and innovation. When using soil amendments derived from waste there is the risk that you can introduce:

  • Pathogens and weed seeds to your soils, crops and products (biosecurity risks);
  • Physical contaminants to your soil such as plastics, metal and glass;
  • Chemical contaminants; and
  • Salts that exacerbate any existing salinity or sodicity issues.

Using quality Composted Soil Amendments (CSA), that is applied appropriately, effectively manages these risks. Freshcare has published an excellent information sheet on using compost safely for growers that are Freshcare certified. It is a useful summary for all agricultural users of CSA.

BioCarbon Soil operates strictly within the NSW Resource Recovery Framework

NSW Resource Recovery Framework

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulates the application of waste to land under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014. Resource recovery orders and resource recovery exemptions allow some wastes to be beneficially and safely re-used independent of the usual NSW laws that control applying waste to land. If the CSA included waste as an input, your supplier must comply with an order, and you also have obligations under the related exemption.

Soil amendments with orders and exemptions typically used in agriculture include:

  • Compost
  • Pasteurised Garden Organics
  • Biosolids
  • Manure
  • Plasterboard (Gypsum)

The NSW EPA publishes the full list of current order and exemptions on their website. Some suppliers produce products under their own order, which is granted by the EPA but not published. Suppliers can claim compliance with orders but, similar to a tax return, they are only held accountable when audited. As a customer, it is also important that you test your supplier’s compliance claims, particularly when you first start using them.


The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has put an increased emphasis on biosecurity since the introduction of the Biosecurity Act (2015) and the Biosecurity Regulation (2017). Biosecurity is now widely understood as a shared responsibility and many farms now have an on-farm biosecurity plan.

Pasteurisation, composting and maturation of organic matter are extremely effective mechanisms for controlling the spread of pathogens and weed seeds. Composted soil amendments (CSA) are safer because they build up populations of beneficial microbes that resist re-population of pathogens after pasteurization.

Compliance with a resource recovery order is one way to be sure that your biosecurity obligations are met, however compliance with an order is claimed by the supplier, not independently certified. You can confirm compliance yourself by asking your supplier for the right information and reviewing it, or by using our CSA selection service. You can also purchase CSA that has been independently certified to a relevant standard. Contact Us about using our CSA selection service >

Standards and Certification

Standards for CSA use in agriculture include:

  1. Australian Standard for Composts, Soil Conditioners and Mulches (AS4454), which can be independently certified by certifiers such as SAI Global; and
  2. ACO Allowed Inputs, which are allowed to be used on properties certified to the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce.

AS4454 is a voluntary standard originally designed for use in the nursery, garden and landscaping industries. Suppliers who claim their product complies with AS4454 are not necessarily independently certified. If they claim to be independently certified, you should ask them for evidence.

While you can be confident that AS4454 certified CSA is safe to use, the product is not necessarily beneficial in specific agricultural applications. Some products that don’t comply with AS4454 are also safe (and legal) to use, as long as they comply with a resource recovery order. We use the test methods and guidance provided by the AS4454 as appropriate for specific agricultural applications.

Contact us for more details on purchasing compost