Composting on Organic Farms

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One of the main goals of every organic farmer is to build longterm soil fertility and tilth by feeding the soil with a variety of natural amendments. The regular addition of compost is one of the best ways to enhance soil organic and humic content, which helps to build a fertile soil structure. Such a soil structure makes better use of water and nutrients. It is easier to till and, overall, is better able to achieve optimum yields on a long-term basis.
Populations of microorganisms that make soil come alive with productivity and enable plants to battle diseases and pests thrive in such an environment. Because compost has already decomposed, its impacts are much more long-lasting than crop residues and green or animal manures that rapidly degrade when added to the soil, especially in the humid Southeast. Composting also gives organic farmers a way to recycle manures and plant residues that otherwise might present some environmental problems. In many instances, a good composting program also allows farmers to save money by eliminating or trimming the need for farm fertilizers and other expensive inputs.
As we’ll see in this publication, composting is not merely a matter of heaping up organic materials and allowing them to rot.

Keith R. Baldwin
Jackie T. Greenfield
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service