So, what is compost and why is it so important?

Terry O’Shea – Group Director

I hear it all the time just how important compost is to soil health. I do a lot of research searching for the perfect or indeed best possible compost available in bulk. We mix it in our UltraGrow soils and potting mixes but it’s a waste-free compost as compared to compost made from Green Waste sources which dominate the market.

But why do I avoid recycled green waste? Isn’t it good to recycle a ‘waste’ back into the environment? Well absolutely if it is fully composted to full maturity but most of the so-called com[ost in the market hardly goes through the pasteurisation phase. Simply put the stuff is still hot which is an important part of composting but it should be at lease in the cooling stage but alas it’s generally not. That’s one of the reasons we have contamination in both the compost and the soils made using it.

Compost is the semi-stabilised product obtained after organic materials have undergone biological degradation under controlled conditions. Basically, compost is organic matter. Compost can be made from any organic material such as garden waste, food scraps, manure, sewage effluent, sawmill waste, leaves and cardboard. Composts vary greatly depending on their maturity, the organic materials used to make the compost, the type of composting (aerobic/anaerobic) and length of the composting

A mature compost is one in which the rate of decomposition has decreased. The maturity of a compost is important because applying immature compost to soil can lead to the immobilisation of nitrogen in the soil

Soil Biological Fertility

Soils are alive! A variety of soil organisms live in the soil. These include bacteria, fungi, microarthropods, nematodes, earthworms and insects. These organisms live on soil organic matter or other soil organisms and perform a number of vital processes in soil. Other organisms are involved in the transformation of inorganic molecules. Very few soil organisms are pests.

The role of soil organisms in soil fertility may involve the following:

  • helping the soil to form from original parent rock material,
  • contributing to the aggregation of soil particles,
  • enhancing cycling of nutrients,
  • transforming nutrients from one form to another,
  • assisting plants to obtain nutrients from the soil,
  • degrading toxic substances in soil,
  • causing disease in plants,
  • minimizing disease in plants,
  • assisting or hindering water penetration into the soil.

Cheers for now and enjoy digging & planting in your garden landscape.

Terry O’Shea

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