Composting and the Benefits and Limitations of its Use as Soil Amendment

Composting and the Benefits and Limitations of its Use as Soil Amendment

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Composting and the Benefits and Limitations of its Use as Soil Amendment


Composting is widely-known as an environmentally sustainable method of recycling food scraps and garden/yard clippings. According to the United States Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) 1994 report entitled, "Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Composting", food discards constitute approximately 8 percent of municipal solid waste generated nationwide. A case study observed in San Francisco, California, reported that an estimated 31 percent of residential wastes and 19 percent of commercial waste generated is food waste. Composting is a viable answer to the food-waste problem. Composting not only reduces the amount of waste, buy also contains chemical properties and other rich elements that benefit the soil's quality, allowing farmers to use it as soil amendment. The following research will examine the process of composting and its different variables in order to investigate its positive and negative affects on the soil.

Composting refers to the controlled decomposing of organic matter by microorganisms, mainly bacteria and fungi, that break organic matter down into readily available nutrients. In truth, it relies on little to no human intervention which makes it fairly easy. There are literally dozens of different technologies that are currently used to create compost (Stickelberger, 1975, p.188). Professor David Bice of Carleton College utilizes a method known as vermicomposting. Dictated by the amount of space (he is limited to in his apartment), Professor Bice places his food scraps in a bucket where red-colored worms digest and convert the bio-waste into a fertilizer product. Therefore, selection of a system depends largely on pragmatic factors....


... middle of paper ...


...lized form of organic matter that improves the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil.

Works Cited

Stickelberger, D, 1975, Survery of city refuse composting. In Organic Materials and Fertilizers: Rome, Italy, FAO Soils, Bulletin 27.

Kapage, F.S.C.P, 1974, Tropical Soils: Classification, Fertility, and Management: New York, St. Martin Press, 201p.

Broadbent, F.E., 1987, Organic Matter . Minnesota Compost and Co-Compost Research Project, In USDA Yearbook of Agriculture: U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Government Document, February 1994, Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Composting Options: Lessons From 30 Communities: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C. 47p.

Government Document, May 1994, Composting Yard Trimmings and Municipal Solid Waste: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C. 56-57p.

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