W.A. Callegari Environmental Center

Don Labonte, Carney, Jr., William A.

W.A. Callegari Brochure, inside

brochure, outside

The W.A. Callegari Environmental Center is the LSU AgCenter's research and training facility for composting organic waste and for water and air quality. Located on an eight-acre site on the Central Research Station south of Baton Rouge, the Callegari Center serves researchers, agricultural producers, private companies, governmental agencies and the general public in the areas of composting, water quality, and air quality.


The natural decomposition of organic matter in soils may take years to generate beneficial, stable soil organic matter – humus. In contrast, composting is a controlled process that uses microorganisms found in nature to transform large quantities of organic materials into a humus-like substance called compost. Quality compost may be produced in a few months and provides numerous environmentally beneficial applications.

The Callegari Center laboratory uses a series of large reactors and simulation models to predict large-scale results. The center handles materials that would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration.

The Callegari Center initiated a three-year project in 2002 to examine the value of in-house composting of poultry litter. Poultry litter has become a disposal problem for producers, who were running out of places to apply this product as fertilizer. The AgCenter process reduces pathogenic microorganisms, moisture and ammonia in the litter, in effect sanitizing it and allowing it to be reused. The Callegari Center also developed a recipe and performed analyses for a composting trial for poultry production mortality in an automated, closed-vessel composting system. The trial provided data for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry approval of a closed-vessel system for composting daily poultry production mortality.

Water Quality

The Callegari Center serves as the home for the Louisiana Master Farmer Program, which helps agricultural producers voluntarily address the environmental concerns related to production agriculture, as well as enhance their production and resource-management skills that will be critical for the continued viability of Louisiana agriculture. This program helps producers become more knowledgeable about environmental stewardship, resource-based production and resource management through a voluntary producer-certification process.

Integral to the Master Farmer Program is the Callegari Center’s analytical services for water quality. In addition to serving agricultural interests, the laboratories provide research capabilities for AgCenter scientists, private industry and local governments. The laboratories can perform more than 40 analytical procedures from simple to sophisticated to determine the chemicals in water and solid and semi-solid materials. Materials that can be tested include:

  • Agricultural runoff water (ditches or sediment ponds)
  • Ambient water (ponds and streams)
  • Well water (non-potable)
  • Drinking water (screening for contaminants only)
  • Animal wastes and lagoons
  • Organic byproducts (agricultural residues, agricultural processing wastes, wood and green wastes, municipal biosolids and wastewater sludges, etc.)
  • Composts and organic soil amendments (non-fertilizer sources)

In 2005 the Callegari Center completed a pair of laboratories for evaluating water quality. The labs are used to quantify nutrients and sediments in runoff water from farm fields that use crop-specific best management practices. AgCenter investigators also use the laboratory services to evaluate alternative uses for dairy manure, including biomass energy production through liquefaction. The laboratories also provide private well and pond owners with low-cost analyses. They also played a significant role in analyzing water samples for potential toxic and pathogenic elements following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The water quality laboratory employs specific analytical methodologies approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for accredited water, waste water and biosolids analyses. A United States Composting Council’s STA Program-compliant lab, the lab uses the latest analytical methods for organic waste and compost analysis.

Air Quality

In response to public concern about sugarcane burning, the Callegari Center worked with the American Sugar Cane League and the Louisiana Department of Agricultural and Forestry to develop smoke management guidelines for sugarcane harvesting. The guidelines are intended to manage smoke and ash from sugarcane prescribed burning operations to lessen their effects on public health and welfare.

Burning sugarcane in the field gives producers lower production costs, efficient harvesting and less material to transport to mills. The AgCenter developed the training curriculum, and hundreds of Louisiana sugarcane farmers have been acknowledged as certified prescribed-burn managers.

Composting Research and Analytical Laboratories

The W.A. Callegari Environmental Center Composting Research and Analytical Laboratories staff is available to answer questions concerning submitting samples for analysis, sample preparation, preservation and storage.  The laboratory can furnish results on your sample within a minimum time.

Our water quality laboratory employs specific analytical methodologies approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) for accredited water, waste water and biosolids analyses.  Being a United States Composting Council's STA Program-compliant lab, the ODRAL uses the latest analytical methods for organic waste and compost analysis, the USCC Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost (TMECC).  Our labs follow a quality assurance program that is consistent with International Standards of Operation (ISO) 17025.

As a part of the LSU AgCenter, our focus is public service.  The knowledgeable faculty and staff at the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center can provide support to individuals concerning a wide range of environmental issues based on sound analytical results.

William and Ann Callegari

William Callegari, who was born in Cottonport, La., is a water and wastewater consultant in Houston, Texas. He received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from LSU in 1963. A mechanical engineer who designed wastewater treatment plants, Callegari recognized the need for environmental quality research and training in Louisiana.

In 1998 with a pledge from William and Ann Callegari and matching funds from the AgCenter, the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center expanded to an eight-acre site with an 8,500-square-foot building and a larger mission

…helping to improve environmental quality, profitability and standards of living for Louisiana residents and industries.

Directions to W.A. Callegari Center

  • Directions from I-10:
  • Take exit 158 for College Drive.
  • Turn left on to College Drive if coming from east, or right if coming from west.
  • Continue on Lee Drive (After crossing Perkins Road, College Drive continues as Lee Drive.)
  • Turn left at Nicholson Drive.
  • Turn right onto Dean Lee Drive (first street on the right).
  • Continue on gravel road and follow signs to W.A. Callegari Center.

Click here for a map.

W.A. Callegari Environmental Center
268E Knapp Hall
110 LSU Union Square
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Phone: 225.578.6998
Fax: 225.578.7765
Labs: 225.765.5155
Composting Research and Analytical Laboratories
1300 Dean Lee Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70820
Phone. 225.765.5155
Fax: 225.765.5158

1/15/2009 3:44:36 AM
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