The Benefits of Composting

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The Benefits of Composting When I was younger I always wondered why we saved our food scraps and added them to the compost pile. My mother found a rusted out truck bed had it set beside her large garden and in went all sorts of things… I eventually wondered why I was making all these extra trips to add kitchen scraps and yard waste to a big pile. Once a year we had to shovel it all out again. In my mind we were just making extra work. Actually we were making a nutrient rich soil amendment that turned a mostly clay Oklahoma soil into an arable land my mother used to feed our entire family. This experience greatly influenced my decision to pursue an education in soil and water sciences. As a knowledgeable environmental professional and Food Loops’ newest team member I’d like to briefly ‘break down’ all things compost. In this post I’ll discuss the various benefits that compost can offer to soil health plant health environmental health and ultimately all of human health. Compost as a soil amendment adds essential nutrients that are used by plants. A well broken down compost can provide all three of the main fertilizer components Nitrogen Phosphorous and Potassium and greatly reduce the need for chemical fertilizer application. Compost can be made from nearly any living thing. Bones fruits vegetables wood and grass are among the things can be found in a well-managed compost pile. Because the parent materials of compost vary so greatly in size and composition as they break down into a fertilizer the particulate size of most compost is also greatly varied. As these different sized organic particles are mixed into soil they contribute to increased soil aeration and moisture retention. This leads to higher plant yields sturdier crops and reduces watering needs as well as yearly soil maintenance. The actions responsible for breaking down larger food and yard waste into viable nutrients for plants are also responsible for protecting plants from opportunistic pests and disease. These protections are a result of the communities of organisms within compost. These organisms continue to thrive well after compost is mixed into the soil. The enhanced biodiversity of the soil after compost is added creates new competition for available resources making it harder for pests and pathogens to find a home. The last benefit of compost affects the entire planet. Currently most of our food waste goes into a landfill. Nearly all landfills are engineered to be anaerobic. When organic material breaks down in an oxygen rich environment like a compost pile the by-product is carbon dioxide a gas with relatively low harm levels. But when food waste is broken down in an anaerobic condition like a landfill the by-product is methane a gas that is directly attributed to climate change. When food waste is transformed into compost we drastically limit the effects of methane production in landfills. Composting whether at home or commercially is a great way to reduce waste reuse

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resources and reduce pollution. Working together we can turn a linear problem into a circular solution. Stay tuned for more informative posts and for Food Loops updates and thank you for composting. Source URL: https://foodloops.net/2018/11/19/the-benefits-of-composting/

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