Composting: Giving Back

by Ryan Costello, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Did you know that 28% of the world’s agricultural land grows crops that are wasted?

2015 is the Food and Agricultural Organization’s International Year of Soils in which awareness is being raised for the importance of soil health and fertility. One act that you can do to raise awareness today is to start composting! Compost is great source of organic matter and a substance vital for air moisture and nutrient retention. Composting leftover crops or vegetables and adding that compost to the soil can start to make up for the nutrients used to grow the crops or vegetables there in the first place.

Compost improves both physical and chemical, as well as biological, parts of the soil. Physically, the addition of compost can increase moisture retention capacity, reduce risk of erosion, regulate soil temperature, and reduce water evaporation. Chemically, the addition of compost provides macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Compost also adds micronutrients and improves the soil’s cation exchange capacity, allowing for more chemical reactions. Biologically, compost provides a plethora of bacteria and fungi that can transform insoluble materials into nutrient and they can degrade harmful substances in the soil. The main reason compost is important to soil fertility is because it adds carbon to the soil, maintaining biodiversity and micro/macrofauna.

Go out today and give nutrients and fertility back to the soil that has supported you all along!

“Composting: Let’s Give the Soil Something Back.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2015 International Year of Soils, 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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