The Art And Science Of Composting

By | October 24, 2020

Decay is a critical microbial process for life on this planet. Minerals are recycled, Carbon is sequestered in the soil as humus and soils are constantly cyclically regenerated. This natural decomposition involves the same processes found in composting. However, composting involves rapid monitoring of these natural processes through human intervention. Here, the efficiency of decomposition is maximized through a fusion of science and art.

Composting has been an integral part of agriculture for centuries, but the science has expanded enormously in the last ten decades. During that same period, extractive agriculture has seriously depleted the mineral and microbial base of our food-producing soils, so the need for well-done composting has never been greater. In this article I will highlight the many benefits of compost, discuss the most effective strategies for producing your own compost, and also share some of the cutting edge strategies for enriching your compost.

The Beauty Of Compost

Water is fast becoming our most precious resource. Countries will wage war to secure supply (if that is not happening already). Using compost is an excellent strategy to save water. It contains around 25% humus and also promotes the formation of humus in the soil (many of which are in desperate need of help). Humus can store more of its weight in water (Podolinski, 1985 and Kay, 1997) and building organic matter levels on your farm, or even in your garden, can make a huge difference in your irrigation water use. on your floor. In fact, the difference is staggering! If you can build your soil humus levels to just 1%, then your soil can store 170,000 liters per hectare that it couldn’t before. That equates to 17 liters per square meter! Remember that this is water that the plant can access at will. No energy is required to deliver the water and there is no evaporation factor involved (such as storage in dams). It really is the ultimate in water storage and efficient water supply system.

Furthermore, any Carbon that we store in the soil as humus is not returned to the atmosphere (as part of the Carbon cycle), where it is causing so much trouble. Building 1% humus in the soil actually joins 50 tons of CO2 per hectare that would otherwise thicken the Greenhouse Layer. Producers will soon be paid for this stored Carbon and this will demonstrate a remarkable win-win situation. In fact, there are so many benefits associated with building humus that it is a shining example of a generous universe that responds in species, it is something of true beauty.

The Reward Of Compost

Humus not only stores moisture more efficiently than any other technology; It is also the best tool to retain nutrients in your soil and deliver them to the plant. Humus is the only colloid in soil that is equipped with sites to store both negatively charged minerals (anions) and positively charged minerals (cations). This is particularly important in relation to the storage of highly leachable anions such as Nitrogen nitrates, sulfates and Boron, since colloidal humus is the only storage mechanism in the soil for these minerals.

The delivery of minerals to the plant is largely a biological process and the higher its humus levels, the more active its soil biology and the more nutritional density its production has. Food can become a feast of forgotten flavors and these flavors are directly related to the medicinal value of the food.

Improving soil structure is a well-researched benefit of compost application. Soil aeration, porosity and crumb structure are improved. Compost is food for the life of the soil. Earthworms return to composted soils, as do less visible creatures. I recently applied a healthy dose of compost to just half a large flower bed at my house. Six months later, the difference is remarkable. Plant growth is more vibrant, the soil is more brittle, and there are twice as many earthworms in the treated half!