resistance to drought and erosion.
The Composting Council is helping to define and develop industry-wide standards for
composts made from various combinations of these materials. The standards will include a
Standard Operating Guide for composting Facilities, which is currently available in draft form
from The Composting Council, as well as standards for suitability of different types of
composts for different markets, depending on the content of the compost.
Other advantages of compost, in addition to organic materials and nutrients being
returned to the soil are the following:
The soil tilth and soils are improved.
Soil temperature is moderated, so that plant roots are warmed in winter and,
through water retention; are cooler in dry, hot conditions.
Increased organic content increases soil microbial activity, which fosters plant
Compost creates a favorable environment for earthworms that help aerate soil
and allow water to reach plant roots.
Mature composts suppress some plant diseases, such as wilt and root rot,
which reduces the need for chemical pesticides and fungicides.
A&compost nutrients, such as nitrogen, are in organic form and, therefore,
are released slowly overtime. The use of compost can reduce the need for
fertilizer by at least 50 percent.
Because less fertilizer and fewer pesticides are needed, pollution from non-
point source runoff can be reduced.
(i). Disease control. Research conducted at Ohio State University and verified in
Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and elsewhere, shows that compost replace part and, in
some cases, all of the fumigants and fungicides used on food crops or landscape projects on
Federal lands. When compost of bark and other materials is used in potting mixes, this will
prevent rotting of seedlings and roots caused by certain organisms. Also, compost has been
shown to be important in controlling wilt disease in certain flowers commonly grown for
indoor use. Specifically, compost prevents fusarium wilt disease on cyclamens, which is
important because there are no fungicides available which can do so. Other projects have
demonstrated that the use of compost can control. disease and result in reduced use of
fertilizers, which can leach into surface waters.
(ii). Benefits for soil reclamation. Compost can be used in soil reclamation projects.
The fine organic composition increases the soil's water-holding capacity. Compost also
increases water infiltration into the soil. The formation of compost-soil aggregates reduces
soil compaction, increases soil friabiity and, therefore, decreases the erodability of soil.
The nutrient and organic carbon content of compost serve as a food source for soil microbes,
thus increasing the availability of the soil's organic and nutrient content to plants at a rate
compatible with plant uptake and aiding faster recycling of nutrients within the system.