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Utilization of Compost as a Soil Amendment to Increase Soil Health and to Improve Crop Yields

Jerome Wright, Scott Kenner, Bret Lingwall

Abstract: Compost amendments have remarkable potential for improving soil structure, porosity and water holding capacity. Soil health is the ability to function as a living system, to sustain plant and animal productivity, to enhance water and air quality, and to promote plant and animal health. Soil health can be estimated by measuring the total living microbial biomass, retained carbon, odor, and texture. Poor or deteriorating soil health is threatening food security. The potential for compost to reverse these negative trends is transformative if means and methods for large scale composting and compost amendments can be developed. A field-scale compost soil amendment project was implemented in Rapid City, South Dakota. The compost was added to a soil plot at 5 wt% and 10 wt% and the results were compared with an adjacent untreated plot without any compost addition. Measurements of soil health characteristics indicate that compost amendments improve soil health, crop yields, and soil water content. Treating soils with compost has the potential to reverse global deteriorating soil health.
Keywords: Compost / Crop Yields / Soil Health / Food Security

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