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,
environment for plants to grow and thrive.
and experienced gardeners realize that yields and the maintenance
of soil fertility depend upon reclamation of organic
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
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
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
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
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
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.