We have known Patrick for almost 50 years when we lived in Malaysia. We have kept up our friendship through the years. He has gone with us twice to cambodia on mission trips to give advice to schools and farms regarding agriculture. He has expertise and experience in different fields, having been trained as an industrial arts teacher, then after obtaining a master’s degree in agricultural science in New Zealand he worked for Rio Tinto as an agronomist and fertilizer expert. Now retired he is busier than ever presenting research papers internationally and helping various organizations improve their farming methods. He will be writing a regular feature for our website on different aspects of plants. He welcomes questions from readers. For this first issue he shares…….
Why I do composting
By Patrick Loo
The world is depleting its resources at an alarming rate and polluting its environment exponentially. Urgent steps must be taken to mitigate these trends. It is mandatory to “ Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” our resources to sustain this world for the future generations. In so doing, we will reduce pollution as an added bonus.
For home gardeners, composting kitchen wastes and unwanted organic matter from the garden is one of the most important habits that needs to be practised.
a) Compost takes a huge amount of material, up to 75 % out of the solid waste management steam
b) Compost reduces methane gas production, a green house gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in global warming.
c) Compost improves the soil physical properties
i) In heavy clay soils, compost improves drainage and porosity of soil so that the roots have air to “breathe”.
ii) Makes sticky heavy clay soil friable and workable
iii) Makes soil to resist compaction so that roots can penetrate soil easier
iv) In light sandy soil, it helps water retention
v) It binds soil particles together resulting in crumbling soil
vi) Helps to prevent soil erosion
d) Compost improves soil chemical properties
i) Acts as a soil buffer to stabilize soil pH ( a measure of acidity / alkalinity
ii) Supplies some macro and micro nutrients
iii) Help nutrients retention prevent leaching
iv) Improve effectiveness of inorganic and organic fertilizers
e) Compost enhances the soil biology
i) Provides habitat and food for soil organisms from bacteria to earth worms.
ii) Nitrogen fixing bacteria in symbiosis with legume root nodules fixes atmospheric nitrogen to nitrogen fertilizer
f) Compost cleans up contaminants such as herbicides etc. The soil particles can lock up permanently some toxic chemicals.
g) Compost can make ex-mining sandy soil to be cultivated or reforested. END
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