Minerals, Microbes, and a Food Source: The History of Compost

The principles and benefits of composting can be traced back to the beginning of time.  Nature has always demonstrated the benefits of using death to restore life.  In addition to being mentioned many times in the Bible, composting was also written about by the Greeks, Romans, and Israelites.  It was written about coming out of the Dark Ages and during the Renaissance.  

Walt Whitman, the great American poet, wrote a masterful poem called “This Compost.”  On May 12, 1818, President James Madison stated in an address, “Nothing is more certain than a continual cropping without manure deprives the soil of its fertility.  It is equally certain that fertility may be preserved or restored by giving to the earth animal or plant manure equivalent to the matter taken from it.”  George Washington Carver said, “A year-round compost pile is absolutely essential.”

So, what’s all the fuss?  In all my years in agriculture, the concept has rarely been mentioned.  Now we’re learning that it may be the single most important concept of our day.  As important as it is, it’s actually a simple concept.  As a society, we have a lot of carbon waste.  If composted properly, this waste can be turned into a renewable resource for your land.

To grow the best crops, man must feed the soil, and one of the best ways to feed your soil is to use “prescription-based composting.”  By using compost in your soil, you immediately replace and unlock key elements that may have been lost or used up.  You rejuvenate the trillions of microbes and fungi responsible for mining those minerals.  Most importantly, you provide that biology a good home and continuous food source of organic carbon.  The biology will use this opportunity to grow huge diverse colonies in your soil, increasing its own ability to mine minerals, which are now in an organic form for plants’ needs.  

This, in turn, pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it in the soil for future generations to use.  Wow!  What an amazing creator we have!  Amazing that we could get all that energy from food scraps and cleared oak trees just by using a little respect for the land and remembering that you must give to receive.

This column is sponsored by Guardian Soil Solutions.

BIO:  Josh Young is a proud former U.S. Marine and native of Plant City, Florida.  His passion for helping growers led him to co-found Guardian Soil Solutions, a full-service agribusiness that focuses on soil health.  Josh’s love of agriculture stems from his earliest days on his granddaddy’s farm.  For more information about Josh and Guardian Soil solutions, visit guardiansoilsolutions.com.