Compost Sampling Videos and Reference Guide


With the compost manufacturing industry growing, many recognize the importance of properly testing the compost being sold to ensure that it meets various criteria for safety and performance.  For many years, employees at compost operations have used the techniques detailed in the Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost (TMECC) to get accurate sampling results but following the techniques in the TMECC are highly technical and do not easily translate to employees of all skill levels.

To help deal with the issue of getting good samples for testing, CREF, with the help of generous funders, decided to create two videos demonstrating the steps that should be taken in order to send compost samples to a lab for analysis. The accuracy of the laboratory analysis depends almost entirely on the quality of the sample submitted, and, particularly, how representative the sample is of a typical batch (up to 5000 cubic yards).  Knowledge on how to properly take samples, and handle the preparation of the sample for analysis, is crucial to getting reliable analysis, which is the basis for whether and how the compost will be used.

The goal of the videos is to be a visual guide that can be used as a continual reference for current and future employees tasked with getting compost samples ready to be sent to a testing lab.  In the videos specific topics are covered such as: field sampling of compost materials, maintenance and sanitation of sampling equipment, completion of chain of custody forms, and proper shipping and storage of samples. If compost operations take better samples by following these TMECC-based guidelines, they will obtain better sampling results which ultimately benefit the entire composting industry.

Part I: Sampling Finished Compost – The focus of this video is end process sampling, or sampling compost which has been cured and is ready for marketing to end-users. Please watch this entire video before developing and initiating your sampling plan.

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Part II: Additional Sampling Techniques – This video will provide guidance for sampling to help troubleshoot compost quality issues related to composting operations and will provide additional information on sampling for parameters that require additional preparation or specialized equipment.

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Companion Guide – After receiving funding to complete the two videos, CREF recognized that compost managers and employees would also benefit from having a printable reference guide to further assist in the learning process. Four generous companies sponsored the Sampling Reference Guide allowing for the completion of this companion document to serve as a refernce for facility employees while in the field. The guide is offered in two downloadable formats, one a foldable pocket form and the second a larger guide that be laminated for repeated use. 

Sampling Reference Guide - Full Size
Sampling Reference Guide - Foldable Pocket Size



Script Development: Video Production:



Special Thanks for Video Creation:

Patricia D. Millner
USDA Research Microbiologist


Special Thanks to the Guide Donors:


The goal of CREF is to continue to produce informative, educational materials like these. Donations from viewers like you can make that possible.

© 2024 Compost Research & Education Foundation. All rights reserved.

Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF)
Physical Address:
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Raleigh, NC 27604

Mailing Address:
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Raleigh, NC 27619
tel: (833) 812-2733