From Worm Compost to Manure
Professor Sean Hurley is in the midst of three research projects. The first is a project that examines nitrogen leaching in strawberry plants when vermicompost is applied as a soil amendment. Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. This project is also examining whether strawberries grow better in vermicompost. This work is being conducted with faculty from the Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sciences Department and the Biology Department at Cal Poly.
Other projects Hurley is involved in include a project analyzing the economic feasibility of a vermicomposting system being used for denitrification of dairy effluent (manure) on a commercial scale — validating a new tool for dairies in the Central Valley to manage nitrogen loading on their land.
He is also investigating the feasibility of utilizing unmanned aerial systems (UAS), along with a hyperspectral camera, to detect water stress in grape plants. Hurley is working with colleagues from the Cal Poly Aerospace Engineering, Wine and Viticulture, and Animal Science departments.
Hurley is the CAFES Senate Caucus Chair, the chair of the budget and long range planning committee, and a member of the President’s Campus Advisory Council on Planning, Process, and Budget. He also leads the AGB program review.