Composting organic waste is so important because it improves soil health and strengthens the soil’s resilience to shocks such as drought. Of the 21 million tonnes currently landfilled in Australia, over 10 million tonnes is organics, including food and garden waste, that could be made into compost.
Generating three centimetres of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue top soil could be gone globally within 60 years, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). About a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded due to erosion, salinisation, compaction, acidification, fires and chemical pollution of soils.
The food scraps we throw away are valuable organic resources that can restore vital nutrients to our soil so we can produce more, healthy food.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOIL MICROBES
Loss of soil biodiversity is observed in many rural areas with increasing use of agrochemicals, low plant biodiversity and rigorous soil management practices.
Human health depends on plant health – and plant health relies on soil health.
Did you know: Soil and the human gut contain approximately the same number of active microorganisms? The human gut microbiome diversity is only 10% that of soil biodiversity and has decreased dramatically with the modern lifestyle.
WHAT IS HEALTHY SOIL?
Healthy soils have high organic matter and lots of soil microorganisms that need oxygen and moisture. Conditioning degraded soil with compost significantly increases its water holding capacity and has many other benefits. We need to retain rain water in soil so it doesn’t run off, taking chemicals with it into nearby rivers and waterways.
INCREASING AGRICULTURAL VALUE
As consumers, we are becoming more aware of the impact that farming methods and food production practices have on the quality of our food.
Agricultural systems need healthy soils to grow crops with the mineral nutrients and moisture they need to thrive. Improving beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil, as well as its oxygen and water content, results in higher yields of better quality crops.