Composting and the benefits to your garden
Monday, 23 January 2012 | HOTBIN Composting
Most gardeners just 'know' compost is good - they use it and they see the benefits in terms of plant growth etc.
Perhaps less well known is the that humus (see definition below) is absolutely critical to soil structure, tilth, fertility, etc. It is hard to grasp just how many aspects of life on earth are linked to humus - agriculture, sustainable agriculture, reduction in inorganic fertilisers, peat., carbon sequestration, biochar, desertification, land rehabilitation, the list goes on.
So just an opinion - humus is hugely important.
We have not re-listed the huge long list of beneficial properties of humus; (they re available in all good soil chemistry books and well reviewed on Wiki etc. However we do think it is helpful to clarify that humus as defined in soil science has a different meaning to the more colloquial gardening use of the term where it often used as another name for compost. In soil science, humus is a distinct fraction of the soil organic matter (SOM). Humus is:
'Mature compost' is not 'humus', although it will contain humus. The more humus in your compost the better for your plants, soil and the environment. There is an awful lot of soil fertility and soil science that indicates humus is one of the most important items in soil fertility. Nutrients from decay end up in the soil at some stage. These nutrients are retained and made available for plants via humus. It is a sad and growing fact that nitrates and other nutrients added to soils tend to leach very quickly from soils with low humus content.
Other names for Humus
There are numerous names to describe humus and commercially available humic materials. These include: humates, humic acid, leonardite, brown coal, lignite, slack lignite, oxidized lignite, weathered lignite, humalite, fulvic acid, fulvates, ulmic acid, humic shale, carbonaceous shale, colloidal minerals, humin, concentrated humus, soil organic matter, peat, humus acid, humus coal.