What is compost?

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​The Dirt on Compost: What It Is & How It’s Made

Compost is essentially nature’s way of recycling organic materials back into the soil, where they can be used to nourish new plant growth. The process of composting involves creating the ideal conditions for microorganisms to break down the organic matter. These microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and other decomposers, consume the organic materials and convert them into simpler compounds.

During the composting process, the temperature of the compost pile will rise as the microorganisms consume the organic matter. This heat is essential to the composting process, as it helps to kill off any pathogens or weed seeds that may be present in the organic materials. As the organic matter continues to break down, the pile will cool and eventually become a dark, crumbly substance that resembles soil.

Compost is made up of a variety of nutrients that are essential for plant growth, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are slowly released into the soil as the compost breaks down, providing a steady source of nourishment for plants over time. Additionally, compost helps to improve soil structure and water-holding capacity, making it easier for plants to access the nutrients they need.

In addition to its use as a soil amendment, compost can also be used as a mulch or fertilizer. When used as a mulch, compost helps to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth, while also providing a slow-release source of nutrients for plants. When used as a fertilizer, compost can be mixed into the soil to provide a rich source of nutrients for new plant growth.

Overall, composting is a simple yet powerful way to promote sustainable practices and improve soil health. By turning food scraps and other organic materials into compost, we can reduce waste, reduce our carbon footprint, and improve the health of our planet.

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the supply chain. The biggest proportion (about 37%) happens in the home.

ReFED, 2021