Uses of Compost - Agriculture

Agriculture

On the open ground, for growing wheat, corn, soybeans, and similar crops, compost can be broadcast across the top of the soil using spreader trucks or spreaders pulled behind a tractor. It is expected that the spread layer is very thin (approximately 6 mm (0.25 in.)) and worked into the soil prior to planting. However, application rates of 25 mm (one in.) or more are not unusual when trying to rebuild poor soils or control erosion. Due to the extremely high cost of compost per unit of nutrients in the western world (such as USA) on-farm use is relatively rare since rates over 4 tons/acre can not be afforded. This is unfortunate and results from over-emphasis on "recycling organic matter" than on "sustainable nutrients". In other countries such as Germany, where compost distribution and spreading are partially subsidized in the original waste fees, compost is used more frequently on open ground, but only on the premise of nutrient "sustainability"

In plasticulture, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, melons, and other fruits and vegetables are often grown under plastic to control temperature, retain moisture and control weeds. Compost may be banded (applied in strips along rows) and worked into the soil prior to bedding and planting, be applied at the same time the beds are constructed and plastic laid down, or used as a "top dressing".

Many crops are not seeded directly in the field but are started in seed trays in a greenhouse (see transplanting). When the seedlings reach a certain stage of growth, they are transplanted in the field. Compost can be used as an ingredient in the mix used to grow the seedlings, but is not normally used as the only planting substrate. The crop to be grown and the seeds' sensitivity to nutrients, salts, etc. dictates the ratio of the blend, and maturity is important to insure that oxygen deprivation will not occur or that no lingering phyto-toxins remain.

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