What is Compost? Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a humus (which is a rich soil amendment known as compost).
Why Compost? Benefits of Composting and Compost Use
Compost enriches the soil and has the ability to help regenerate poor soils. The composting process encourages the production of beneficial micro-organisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) which in turn breakdown organic matter to create humus. Humus, a rich nutrient-filled material, increases the nutrient content in soils and helps soils retain moisture. Compost has also been shown to suppress plant diseases and pests, reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, and promotes higher yields of agricultural crops.
Compost helps cleanup (remediate) contaminated soil. The composting process has been shown to absorb odors and treat semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It has also been shown to bind heavy metals and prevent them from migrating to water resources or being absorbed by plants. The compost process degrades and, in some cases, completely eliminates wood preservatives, pesticides, and both chlorinated and non-chlorinated hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.
Compost helps prevent pollution and erosion. Composting organic materials that have been diverted from landfills ultimately avoids the production of methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. Compost has the ability to prevent pollutants in storm water runoff from reaching surface water resources. Compost has also been shown to prevent erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers, and prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses.
Using compost offers economic benefits. Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. The organic matter in compost holds 10-1,000 times more water and nutrients than the same amount of soil minerals. Composting also extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills and provides a less costly alternative to conventional methods of remediating (cleaning) contaminated soil.
Processing compost creates jobs. Processors of organics (the feed stocks for compost "recipes") create 4 times as many manufacturing jobs as landfilling these materials.
Composting benefits the environment. Over 30% of the waste stream in the United States is comprised of organic material. These materials can easily be recycled (composted) at home instead of landfilled. Composting also saves money! It lessens the need for store-bought soil amendments and reduces your garbage bill. Composting also helps your garden grow. It improves clay soils by adding bulk and nutrients. Plus, it’s fun!