Compost for Superb Soil Quality and High YieldsDownload Audio Version
Composting offers plenty of benefits for the environment in that it reduces the impact of air, land, and water pollution. Biodegradable waste is decomposed and used to improve soil quality. This contributes to plant growth because important nutrients are added to the soil. Compost is a natural soil conditioner that can improve the quality of any type of soil. It enhances the texture, structure, and composition of soil and its ability to retain air, moisture, and essential nutrients. The soil structure is made of a combination of decayed matter such as humus and compost and inorganic matter such as clay, silt, and sand. Healthy soils have a crumbly structure which is achieved by adding decayed organic matter. It allows for air and roots to penetrate deeper while excess water drains away. What is more, soils with a crumbly texture are cultivated more easily because they tend to stay loose. Another benefit is that composting helps enhance outdoor air quality. The landfills are filled with waste that generates compounds such as leachate, methane, and others. The less waste goes into the landfills, the healthier the soil and the environment.
High-traffic and High-density Areas
Composting is especially beneficial in areas that receive a lot of traffic. This is a good way to minimize the impact of erosion along rivers, lakes, and other waterways, as well as highways and roads. Compost prevents silting and erosion on embankments that are parallel to rivers, lakes and creeks. It minimizes the impact of erosion on golf courses, playing fields, and hillsides. Improved air quality is an added advantage given that high-density areas often face congestions, a lot of traffic, and hence – high levels of air pollution. What is more, the volume of waste is reduced through composting. The pile of waste is reduced in volume by up to 50 percent through processes such as water respiration and biochemical breakdown.
Economic Benefits and Nutrients
Homeowners benefit from the fact that composting reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and water. This is an affordable alternative to soil nutrients and amendments. There are different nutrients in a compost pile such as carbon, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and others. It also contains micronutrients and minerals such as manganese, boron, copper, zinc, and iron. Compost promotes plant growth and higher yields and suppresses pests and crop diseases. Besides, this is a good way to control and minimize household waste. It is also beneficial in that it improves retention, and homeowners use less water for irrigation. Some studies also show that moisture dispersion is enhanced when compost is added to sandy soils. Adding just 1 percent of organic matter to 1 acre allows soil to retain a water volume of up to 16,000 more gallons.
The Soil Food Web
Compost increases the cation exchange capacity and neutralizes pH. It also improves the health of the soil food web. This is a community of organisms such as vertebrates, insects, earthworms, fungi, algae, and bacteria. They move through, grow, and eat beneath the surface, contributing to improved water flow and air circulation. The food web is essential for plant health because these organisms decompose plant residue and organic compounds that will otherwise pollute the soil. They help lower runoff and improve filtration and soil porosity. These organisms produce and transform nutrients that are used by agricultural crops, shrubs, trees, grass, and other plants. Soil organisms are important for plant health because they control crop pests, improve the structure of soil, and cycle nutrients.
Controlling Crop Diseases
Another benefit of composting is that it helps minimize the risk for plant diseases. Sterile soils are more vulnerable than nutrient-rich soils that support a healthy soil food web. Researchers from the University of Illinois have shown that compost-treated soil produces better yields than a sterile one. Microorganisms decompose pesticides and residue and prevent them from polluting water. Thus, compost is beneficial for the environment in general, not only for crops.
Labile and active fraction matter, dead plant material, amino acids, and soluble sugars are transformed by organisms that improve crop health. The list also includes humus and particulate organic matter.
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