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How Does Compost Help the Environment?

It is no secret that staunch environmentalists love talking about compost and its various benefits to the environment. Take a look at these reasons why composting is a significant factor for sustainability.

  • Helps Landfills

Using compost keeps the vegetable materials out of landfills. Composting not only keeps landfills from rashly filling up but it also reduces the pollution they create. Plant matter does not decay well when put in landfills as the numerous layers burying the vegetable matter builds an anaerobic environment. Such an environment leads to the production of methane, a gas more powerful than carbon dioxide, during the decay process. Composting, therefore, reduces the contribution of landfills to the climate change.

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  • Feeds the Soil

When you compost food waste and use it in gardens and fields, you return the nutrients to the soil bank that gives food to us.

  • Improves the Soil

Compost benefits the soil is many ways. It aids in loosening the compaction of heavy soils and also helps sandy soils in trapping and holding water. When you mix compost with soil, it acts like a sponge and holds water where the roots mostly need it. In doing so, it lessens the amount of irrigation a crop requires. Additionally composting puts in nutrients and encourages the growth of useful microorganisms, earthworms and insects. Compost makes significant contributions to the health of the soil and enhances the chance of plant success.

  • Minimizes Chemicals

When you spread compost on the crop, you reduce the necessity for any other chemical fertilizers. Compost offers the basic nutrients that chemical fertilizers supply. It has an added advantage in that it has a wide assortment of trace minerals and other nutrients that chemical fertilizers do not have.  Little or no use of chemical fertilizers lessens any environmental problems that arise from their use such as water pollution. Nitrogen from the chemical fertilizers also leads to algae blooms in oceans and lakes and hence alters the coastal ecosystem. The fertilizers also percolate into the underground water and contaminate the drinking water wells.

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  • Composting Reduces Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Home compost is superior other composting commercial methods.  These methods use machinery that relies on oil and sped-up methods of oxidizing organic matter at high heat so that it breaks down fast. There is no fungal decomposition involved in the process. As a result, the machinery causes harm to the environment due to the fumes they emit. Although composting is slow, you are sure that the fungi and bacteria break down all the materials.

You can learn more about the environmental benefits of compost at the Open Permaculture School and or to visit Regenerative Leadership Institute.

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Degradation of Soil

   Soil degradation is an old issue that is becoming bigger with every passing year. And it is not a process that started few years ago, it is a process that goes back through our history. There are few things that can be classified as degradation in quality of the soil. Decline in biological, chemical and physical properties are things that determine the loss of the quality of the soil. Transport of the soil from its original place and erosion are both also considered as factors of soil degradation.

   Erosion makes soil move, away, and this causes in fewer layers of soil on certain place. Not every bit of land around you is good for growing, and soil on top may be good, but soil from few feet under is not. But I want to focus on other forms of soil degradation, decline in properties of the soil is what I want to discuss.

   First you should understand what leads to soil degradation considering the theme we are discussing. Well the removal of plants, and constant ploughing and over-grazing are some of the factors that cause soil degradation. Let me explain. Plants protect soil from other elements and prevents large loss of carbon in the soil. Remove plants and there is nothing to stop that loss. Constant ploughing that loss makes bigger. And by removing layer of plants from the soil their roots are removed too, so their purpose as organic food for the enrichment of the soil disappears.

     So the loss of carbon is the major factor of soil degradation. In this time 2 percent of carbon in a soil is deemed enough and that is the bottom line after which soil degradation ensues. Some claimed that Australia always had a bad soil with low levels of carbon. But in research it was discovered that once their soil had up to 37 percent of carbon. With that and few other facts we can say that soil degradation in Australia began with first white man.

   That is a fact, but I don’t have time to talk lengthy about that because I want to tell you about recovery of the land that is degraded to the point that it has under 10 percent of carbon. There are a lot of articles written about soil healing, you can search for specific information by reading some works from Vladislav Davidzon or some other permaculturists. I say permaculturists because they are already doing soil recovery within their permaculture systems, and their principles can be used in soil recovery on bigger surfaces. You can also join this movement by getting permaculture design certificate.

   Well the main reason for carbon loss and soil degradation is removal of plant life, so it is logical that the first move is to grow plants on that soil. Plants that won’t be pulled out every half of a year. Then as it is done in permaculture systems mulch is the next step. Mulch is used to give plants nutrients through the soil, so by doing this soil receives things it lacked. There are few other techniques that can be used for soil recovery and one that is as natural as first technique is grazing fields on soil that is degraded.

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