Compost Fundamentals

Compost Benefits & Uses

Compost is sometimes called “black gold,” and has long been considered a gardener’s best friend. It improves the textures of any type of soil; sandy, clay loose or hard. Soils can both hold more water and drain more efficiently when compost is added. Compost, and the beneficial soil life it includes such as bacteria, fungi, redworms and dung beetles replenish the soil to make it a healthy, productive environment for plants to grow and thrive.

economic aspects

Farmers and experienced gardeners realize that yields and the maintenance of soil fertility depend upon reclamation of organic materials. Soil scientists and soil ecologists study the interaction of soil microorganisms and their effects on the soil food web and soil management. Plants depend on organic matter in soil for their nutrient supply and protection against disease. In fact, soil microbiologist Mary Ann Bruns explains the extreme importance of these organisms: “If all humans were eliminated from the planet, it would still be a livable place—there would be plenty of oxygen and water. But if the microscopic organisms were eliminated, we would die because they’re totally responsible for purifying our water and for maintaining the correct mixture of gases in the air for us to breathe. And if we didn’t have microorganisms, we would be buried in our waste because we rely on them to decompose it.”

Composting organic matter to make them safe for use on agricultural lands and gardens is economically sound, and a way to cut down on the volume of waste materials at the landfills or incinerators. Keeping the organic matter out of the solid waste stream holds down the cost for the community in disposal cost.

Compost contains valuable nutrients that could replace and/or supplement use of commercial fertilizers by homeowners. Use of chemical fertilizers can be cut down to a minimum. Excessive usage of commercial fertilizers by homeowners can contaminate surface and groundwater with nitrates. Excess nitrates in ground and surface water can lead to human health hazards.

Municipalities that collect or stockpile organic matter, and are responsible for sanitary disposal, are often not directly concerned with their utilization in agriculture/horticulture. Municipalities are primarily interested in the sanitary disposal of the materials. In Whatcom County, the “clean green” yard waste that homeowners’ deposit at the site is contracted to go to a facility where it is safely composted. Other places send such organic wastes to landfills.

Salvaging urban organics for agricultural use offers an opportunity for closer cooperation between urban and rural elements in improving the total economy of an area. It has been demonstrated many times in various areas of the world that developments in one segment of a community can benefit another and be profitable for both. For example, in Snohomish County, there is a dairy farm that accepts yard trimmings and horse manure and composts, selling quality composts back to the community.

Economic reclamation of municipal organic wastes depend upon low cost production which permits distribution of large quantities of composted organic materials at a sufficiently low price to make its use attractive to agriculture and horticulture operations.

Many commercial compost plant operators have found a profitable market among truck gardeners, nurseries and landscaping operation. There is a need for good humus in our fast growing community. Many new homes and commercially buildings have topsoil brought in, which is usually stripped, from good agricultural land. The humus from composting organic wastes could be used as a substitute for or blended with topsoil now used by landscape contractors and homeowners.

economic aspects

testing and judging condition of compost

quality of composts

benefits of compost

use of compost

Why Compost | Biology & Chemistry | Compost Needs
Composter's Needs | Benefits & Uses | Conclusion

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