Imagine growing compost plants on a nutrient deficient soil, after waiting for so long to nurture the plants only to discover that they (the plant) are useless as they cannot serve the purpose of replenishing the lost soil nutrients because they weren’t also grown on a fertile soil. This scenario further speaks to the fact that you cannot give what you don’t have? What a pity! Thankfully, our last episode discusses extensively what it takes to plant compost crops of high quality. Click here to learn more.

Amazingly for week 10, we are taking our discussion on compost further under the topic: COMPOST: THE GOLD WE FEED OUR BIOINTENSIVE BEDS.

According to Sir Albert Howard (one of the pioneers of organic agriculture we discussed about in episode three) “fertility of the soil determines the future of civilization”. Nature in itself is an expert recycler of all waste, in fact when animals and plants live and grow, the animal’s residues as well as plants leaves and roots decay to enrich the soil around them. Therefore, organic materials, natural minerals and trace minerals are continually returned to the soil to nourish new growth.

Plants receive 96% of their nutrients from air, water and sun through the process of photosynthesis, the remaining 4% are received from organic matter deposited in compost. The process of making compost is called composting.

  1. However, composting in nature occurs in 3 ways as follows:
    In the form of manure from animals, for example earthworms are good composters, their manure called casting are 4 times richer in hydrogen, 2 times richer in exchangeable calcium, 7 times richer in available phosphorus, and 11 times richer in available potassium than the soil they live in. Meanwhile, it is advisable not to over-depend on worm castings because the nutrients in them are readily available which makes them easily lost from the soil system.
  2. In the form of animal and plant bodies that decay on top and within the soil naturally or in compost piles.
  3. Lastly in the form of root hair and microbial life that remain and decay beneath the surface of the soil after harvesting.

Functions of compost.

  • Improves soil structure, this translates to the fact that the soil will be easier to work with
  • It helps the soil have good aeration
  • Increases the soil ability to hold water and air.
  • It reduces the occurrence of soil erosion

It must be well noted that even after adding a sizable quantity of fertilizers to the soil, plants grown on it (such soil) may not still perform well. This happens when the nutrients available in them (fertilizers) are not in forms usable by crops. On the other hand, when you add compost to the soil, the organic acid it contains will help release the hidden nutrients in a form usable by the plants.

At this juncture, it is important to know the difference between fertilization and fertility. Compost mixed with different materials is way better than chemical fertilizers which do not add organic matter into the soil. Chemical fertilizers sometimes leach out of the soil if the plants do not use them immediately.

The Process of Decomposition

Compost is created from the decomposition and recombination of various forms of plants and animal life. These materials are called organic matter.

The decomposition process is carried out by microscopic organisms which include Bacterial and Fungi alongside larger organisms like Earthworm. Most stages of decomposition involve the formation of carbon dioxide and water as the organic materials are broken down.

Accordingly, most compost piles need air, moisture, varieties of other materials and warmth. Alike, some beneficial bacteria need air to breath in the compost pile, hence the need to loosely pack the pile. Enough water is needed by soil organisms to keep them alive in the compost pile but not in excess. The greater the variety of materials in the compost pile the higher and better the number and types of microbial life available in the pile. This leads to the production of high quality compost.

The decomposition process breaks down the organic material into a more stable form of organic matter in the pile called humus. As humus is formed, nitrogen becomes part of its structure. Nutrients in humus are easily available to plants in a slow, natural and continual process so that the plants can pick what they need per time. Also, the other nutrients not absorbed are stored in the soil safely and are made available anytime the plants are in need of them.

Stay tuned for the next episode, thank you!

WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our customer support team is here to answer your questions. Ask us anything!
👋 Hi, how can I help?