Compost refers to the resultant product from the biological decomposition of organic material. Through heat generation, this material is sanitized and stabilized to make it beneficial to the growth of plants.
The application of compost is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Herein is a comprehensive account of the benefits of composting.
- It improves the structure of soil
Compost can be used to enhance the physical structure of soil considerably. If you add compost to soils that are fine in texture such as clay or clay loam soils, their bulk density is reduced while their friability (workability) and porosity is increased.
The compost will also increase their water and gas permeability and consequently reduce soil erosion. If you use it in sufficient quantities your garden’s soil structure will be positively impacted in both immediate and longer terms.
If you happen to have sandy soil in your garden, compost will increase its water holding capacity and also make it resistant to compaction. This is attributed to the high humus content of compost. Humus is the residue that results from the decomposition of organic matter to a high degree.
It serves as soil “glue” holding the particles together thus improving its ability to retain moisture. This is particularly good for water management. Over time, the addition of compost will result in water using efficiently.
You will therefore experience a reduced need to frequently water or irrigate your garden. According to the addition of compost in sandy soils can facilitate moisture dispersion since it allows water to move laterally from the application point much easier.
Sandy soils waste a lot of water since the water moves directly downwards and provide limited benefits to your plants.
- Increases nutrient intake of plants
Composting gradually improves the cation exchange capacity of soils. This enables them to retain their nutrients much longer. Additionally, it enables your plants to utilize the available nutrients more effectively.
This is the reason why the fertility of soils is related to the content of organic materials therein. Compost products also have a good range of macro and micronutrients.
In addition to the benefits provided by their phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen content, these nutrients will be essential for the growth of your plants. When you apply compost at greater rates, the resulting cumulative slow-release of the nutrients will affect your garden positively.
Additionally, plants flourish when the nutrients are taken in gradually in small quantities over a period of time. If you happen to be using fertilizers, the compost will also make them more effective.
- Compost provides soil biomass
Organisms that live in soil are important parts of soil fertility and overall plant health. The activity of these organisms is largely dependent on organic matter presence. They include algae, bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, yeasts, myxomycetes and actinomycetes, found in abundance in compost as well as in the soil media. They play an important role in decomposing organic matter and consequently result in the formation of the aforementioned humus and nutrient availability.
Some fungi live symbiotically with plant roots and promote root activity. They specifically assist them in extracting nutrients from the soil. Compost may also facilitate the growth of earthworm populations. Earthworms improve the aeration and water infiltration through tunneling.
- It modifies and stabilizes soil pH levels
Adding compost to your garden’s soil may modify the PH of the resultant mix. This can be applied to either increase or lower the PH depending on the PH of the native soil. If you add slightly alkaline or neutral compost in appropriate quantities to acidic soil, the soil PH will increase and vice versa.
Soil PH influences several soil factors affecting plant growth and certain plants do well in specific PH ranges. Long term incorporation of compost has the ability to stabilize and control soil PH.
We have gone through the benefits of compost to your garden but they will not be any good if you do not know how to produce compost. This is why I found it very important to include a link to a video that will take you through all the simple steps involved in the compost production process.
Compost is an organic resource and can improve the biological, physical and chemical properties of soil you use in your garden. It is important to note that compost does not physically resemble the raw material from which it is produced.