The Role of Natural Compost

Natural Agriculture compost known as “natural compost” or “veg-compost” is made only with vegetative materials and no animal manures. It can take many forms ranging from the use of fresh vegetative materials to aged decomposed materials. The type of compost to use depends on the specific agricultural practice. In the Natural Agricultural guidelines, compost is not applied to fertilize the soil, but as a means to keep the soil warm or cool, to improve its water retention capacity, and to prevent it from hardening.  Although compost is generally categorized as type of fertilizer, the Natural Agriculture guidelines do not regard it as such. The natural compost should be composed of plant materials (grass, leaves, and crop residue) ideally from the immediate area, grown where no harmful substances have been used. Dry grasses and fallen leaves are part of natural recycling and regeneration in nature. Natural Agriculture compost will not interfere with or decrease the original energy level of the soil.

soil_composting One of the most important points in growing plants and in sustaining them is to assist their root growth. To do this, it is essential to keep the soil from becoming compacted. Soil that is easily compacted is not suitable for farming because it tends to arrest development of roots. Take care not to use natural compost that is over-decomposed. This type of natural compost can become easily hardened and compact on the soil surface and when mixed in the soil create lumps similar to soil clods. Natural compost whose condition is half-decayed is most appropriate.

The following are considered harmful substances by Natural Agriculture standards and included in its list of prohibited materials. Avoid using all harmful materials mentioned in this outline, including the following:

  • Compost made of animal manure (from cattle, pigs, chickens, horses and other livestock) and/or human waste
  • Compost made of plant materials that are exposed to heavy metal, chemical substances or radiation or possibly exposed to such contamination
  • Food processing wastes (such as bean curd refuse, brewer’s grain, and coffee grounds) and the compost made from these wastes
  • Manufactured vegetables wastes (oil cake and rice bran to name a few) and the compost made from these wastes
  • Manufactured woody materials (made of woody materials such as bark, sawdust, wood chips, etc.) and the woody compost made of these materials
  • Peat
  • Wood charcoal, rice husk charcoal, and carbonized leaves (carbonized by fumigation)
  • Pyroligneous acid (liquid obtained by dry distillation of wood)
  • Ash of burned plants
  • Livestock waste (skin, blood, meat, coat, bone meal, etc.)
  • Fish waste (fish, shellfish, seashells, seaweed, fish meal, etc.)
  • Materials made of natural minerals (caustic lime, rock dust, etc.), which is especially used as soil amendments or conditioners
  • Vegetable oils and animal fat
  • Food garbage (exception: uncooked vegetable scraps from a Natural Agriculture Farm or Garden)
  • Compost made of urban garbage
  • Sewage sludge and other organic materials with a risk of contamination by exposure to heavy metal, chemical substances, or radiation
  • Perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss

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