Microbial Compost Facts and Benefits
What is Compost?
Good compost is decayed organic material such as leaves, wood chips, manure, compostable packaging or food waste which is used to introduce the soil organisms and the organic material needed to build healthy, living soils.
Bad compost is similar decayed organic matter that has not been properly sourced and prepared and may harbor plant diseases and toxic substances that can damage plants.
How Does Compostable Packaging and Urban Food Waste Fit In?
In order to remove enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere we need to convert billions of acres (hectares) to regenerative farming and grazing.
To do this we must rebuild all the damaged soils we have created around the world and so we will need huge amounts of good compost. This challenge can best be met by harvesting all the compostable material from both urban waste and rural environments.
Although waste paper can be converted to high quality compost using certain species of earth worms, plastic packaging cannot. This means that we need to convert all our food and other packaging into compostable forms.
All Living Material is Mostly Carbon
Since all organisms are made of carbon, the soil food web systematically builds more complex and stable carbon molecules as the bacterial and fungal grazers become prey for creatures higher up the food web. In this way stable carbon compounds build up in the soil providing a lattice for improved soil structure and homes for millions of bacterial species and their multitudinous companions. The result is that massive amounts of carbon dioxide have been removed from the air and converted to stable soil carbon.
Good quality compost, used as a solid, an extract or a tea, is the only way to restore depleted soils to their fully functioning living soil status and thereby ensure that the sequestered carbon is safely removed from the atmosphere.
Why is Good Compost Needed for Carbon Sequestration?
Because the only way to safely sequester carbon in the soil is to build the complete soil food web of living organisms that thrive in the root zone of healthy plants.
When we introduce solid or liquid compost into the soil we provide both the organisms and the food they need to begin breeding. This only works when there are healthy plants in the soil to take over the job of feeding these organisms.
How Plants Feed Soil Organisms
Much of the carbon captured and turned into foods by healthy plants during photosynthesis is exuded from the roots into the soil. These food substances are exuded by the roots specifically to feed the billions of microscopic soil organisms that live around the roots. These organisms return the favor by dissolving essential minerals in the sand, silt or clay particles, that the plants need and making them available to the plants.
"In agriculture, windrow composting is the production of compost by piling organic matter or biodegradable waste, such as animal manure and crop residues, in long rows (windrows). This method is suited to producing large volumes of compost. These rows are generally turned to improve porosity and oxygen content, mix in or remove moisture, and redistribute cooler and hotter portions of the pile." [Source: Wikipedia]
The photo below is a compost windrow on a large facility that makes 200,000 tons of compost per year.