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Plant Growth Benefits
Plant Growth Benefits

Compost – Promotes Healthier Plant Growth

Compost is most well-known for its contribution to healthy and resilient plant growth. It has a number of complementary benefits to plant growth, among them that it balances soil density, adds and retains nutrients, and discourages disease, pests and weeds. These and other benefits help ensure that adding compost to the mix will grow healthier plants.

Balances Soil Density

Compost helps plant growth by balancing soil density. In soils that are too tight, compost helps to loosen the soil; whereas in compost that is too loose, it helps to clump it together. This balancing allows plants to develop healthier roots into the soil contributing to healthier growth.

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Enriches the Soil

In addition, compost both improves soil’s ability to hold nutrients and delivers much-needed nutrients. It improves nutrient retention by increasing the soil’s cation exchange capacity (CEC) and then it delivers needed food for the plants in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Although concentrations of nutrients found in compost are typically not high in comparison to chemical fertilizer products, compost is usually applied at much greater rates, and therefore, can represent a significant cumulative quantity. The nutrient content of compost products vary widely; however, biosolids and animal manure based composts typically contain more total nutrition. The use of certain composts may reduce or eliminate the necessity to fertilize certain plants during the first 6 –12 months following its application. In general, nutrients found in compost are in an ‘organic’ form thus released slowly as the compost decomposes, reducing nutrient movement off site. The content of these nutrients are reported in the STA Certified Compost Technical Data Sheet.

Balances pH

Compost balances soil pH. pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity, on a logarithmic scale. pH of 7 indicates neutrality. Most composts have a pH of between 6 and 8. Each specific plant species requires a specific pH range. Different soil nutrients are more available to plants at specific pH ranges.

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Sponge for Water

Compost absorbs water, keeping plants from drying out as quickly.

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Suppresses Pests and Disease

Compost also provides plants with greater resistance to pests and insects, as well as suppressing disease. This protection from pests is due to the fact that plants are more vulnerable to those menaces when nutrients are imbalanced; by balancing nutrients, compost helps vegetation stand up to those pests. Similarly diseases generally fare worse in compost due to the elevated temperatures required for feedstocks to decompose into compost.

Discourages Certain Weeds

Finally, compost can also discourage certain weed types, which further benefits the plants you’d like to grow. This is for two reasons: first, the high temperatures created in making compost deactivate many weed seeds, rendering them harmless. Then second, weeds often grow in imbalanced nutrient ecosystems, which compost corrects. For example, giant ragweed grows better in soils low in potassium. By balancing the nutrients in the soil, compost makes for a less inviting space for weeds to flourish.

Case Study Examples

Large-Scale Example