Life’s Little Secrets: Compost is the most valuable substance on Earth

What is the difference between an agricultural field and a forest? When was the last time you needed to irrigate, fertilize or use pesticides on your local woodlands?

We are told for agricultural fields, we need consistent fertilization, irrigation, minerals additives,and, in many cases, pesticides to curb unwanted weeds, bugs, and microbial pathogens. Internationally, soil tests confirm massive losses in crop root depth, calcium, nitrogen, water retention and nearly every other agricultural necessity…all due to our current agricultural practices. We see woodlands in the middle of agricultural land, thriving … increasing fertility in the same soil, with the same climate, mineral content, insects and rainfall, and yet still flourish despite having 100-1000 times more plant biomass than the surrounding agricultural fields.

So what have we done to the soil that makes us spend billions of dollars in inorganic additives for functions that natural systems do for free? Many of us can remember the Lion King and the ‘Circle of Life.’ The wildebeests eat the grass, the lions eat the wildebeests, and when the lions die they become grass for the wildebeests. Well, that’s a bit simplified, but what makes a dead lion become grass? Microbes and scavengers eat at the flesh and bones. They both digest the animal … much of the microbial waste is plant food and the scavenger waste is more microbial food… which then becomes plant food. The same is true in any system. Every natural thing that you see on the forest floor, from tree limbs and leaves, to fruit, nuts and animal waste all become food for the system to improve fertility on every level. This is nature’s compost, created by the diversity and abundance of life from the microbial level up. This system has created 100 percent of the fertility that allowed our species to thrive on this planet.

Learn how to complete the ‘Circle of Life’ in your back yard or community garden in our CYL How To blog coming up. 

Benjamin Friton
Co-Founder and Chief of Research & Development