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 Soil Fertility and Composting  -  Natures Way of Plant Nutrition

Home made compost
 “Composting is, in broadest terms, the biological reduction of organic wastes to humus. Whenever a plant or animal dies, its remains are attacked by soil microorganisms and larger soil fauna and eventually reduced to an earth-like substance that forms a beneficial growing environment for plant roots. This process, repeated continuously in endless profusion and in every part of the world where plants grow, is part of the ever-recurring natural process that supports all terrestrial life. The entire composting process is difficult to contemplate in its full dimensions. Let’s just say that compost and composting are, like water and air, essentials of life. “ - The Rodale Book of Composting
 
In our modern world where everyone is looking for the quickest way to solve a problem we have very much become used to the “fertilizer fix”. This is especially the matter in large scale commercial farming ventures where the labor intensive way of composting has for decades been shoved out of the way. Even small-scale farmers and backyard gardeners have become addicted to this fix. Gardeners doing their own composting as an alternative to the fertilizer fix are very rear today. But there is light at the end of the tunnel for those billions of microorganisms hidden in the soil and dying to find any organic material to chew on. More and more gardeners and thankfully farmers are becoming aware of the advantages of composting not only for the crops they grow but also for the environment and then especially the soil. Today there exist several large-scale commercial farming ventures all over the world that have shown that it is possible and profitable to farm using compost, instead of fertilizer.
 
The Challenge
Most of us live in an environment where there is an abundance of raw organic material that can be easy, with a little bit of knowledge and effort, turned into those live giving nutrients needed by plants for healthy living. And in the process, we become a blessing to the soil, as we by adding compost, brings live back to the soil. This short manual is an effort to create enough interest so that everyone reading it will get out there and start composting for the own, and the environments benefit. Composting is a rather complicated process that is best left to the soil scientist to explain. But for us as gardeners and small-scale farmers, a basic knowledge will suffice and will set us on a path for establishing our own food gardens.
Pierre Van Wyk, EzineArticles Basic Author
What is compost then? 
Compost is the remains of what is left after the raw organic material was decomposed by microorganisms. These microorganisms are not visible to the naked eye and therefore referred to us microscopic or microorganism. Raw organic material refers to any material found in our natural environment like leaves, grass, manure, sawdust etcetera. Compost, after the composting process has finished, will ideally consist of 30% organic material. This 30% is the material that was unable to decompose. The rest will be a combination of macro and micronutrients and microorganisms. It is these nutrients that are needed by plants for healthy growth and that are absorbed by plants during the different growth phases of the plant.  
 
Visit our other resources pages on organic food gardens here

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