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Humus Compost plays role in creating soil structure

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Compost is the single most indispensable input in ensuring good soil structure in plant production, healthy root development, soil biological activity, nutrient retention, erosion control and moisture management.

While in Australia recently, speaking for YLAD Living Soils , world-renowned composting and soil fertility consultant Edwin Blosser, president of Midwest Bio-Systems in Illinois, spoke about how low organic matter and humus in soil compromises soil characteristics that are vital to good soil structure, beneficial micro-organism activity, and the ability to supply necessary nutrients to plants.

By using composting methods taught by Edwin Blosser, known as the Advanced Composting System, a high quality humified compost can be produced with a controlled process where organic matter is broken down, with a combination of heat and microbial processes, and then microbially polymerised or built up into glues, gels, resins and humus that contains humic and fulvic acids.

Compost that is humified with humus, in this way, has a powerful magnetic impact on particles of the soil, forcing soil particles to expand, creating a porous structure acting like a sponge, allowing both air and water to penetrate and allow aerobic microbes to breathe.
 
The gummy, spongy texture of humus is essential to the formation of aggregates, and creating the crumb structure that establishes ideal conditions for biological activity.
 
These aggregates hold air in the pore spaces, and when one tills the soil mechanically it loosens the soil, however, when the soil is irrigated or becomes too wet, the soil will return to a cement-like, tight structure.
 
By using humified compost, the humus properties will keep soil particles apart, creating necessary soil structure for optimum growth, making high quality humified compost the glue that holds pieces of sustainable soil fertility together.

The power of attraction of humus to soil is about 300:1. This means humus is 300 times more powerful than soil at attracting other soil particles and storing nutrients. By holding the nutrients in the soil there is less leaching into our groundwater and rivers.
 
In dry times or drought these pore spaces also serve a critical role by enabling moisture in lower levels of the soil to wick up to plant roots through a mechanism known as capillary action.

Humus can hold four times its weight in water, increasing the soil's water holding capacity, increasing soil porosity, reducing runoff, slowing evaporation and decreasing mineral leaching.

Above ground properties contributed by the atmosphere, moisture, trace elements and carbon dioxide provide more than 95 per cent of the total volume of growth in plants.

The only way roots have the ability to unlock the potential of receiving these above ground properties is to actively have growing root tip at all times.
A loose, crumbly soil structure enables root growth to be prolific, influenced by the level of soil life activity and nutrients in the soil.

YLAD Living Soils has assisted many growers achieve positive results with a one-off application of two tonne to the hectare of humified compost, solving problems in the soil.
 
Humus contained in the compost provides the loosening of soil - a springboard allowing the proper diversity of microbial life to flourish.

Humus also holds a large amount of solubilising agents produced by the microbes, improving nutrient availability.

The value of compost goes beyond improving soil structure and providing nutrients. Beneficial microbes provided by humified compost help the crop to defend itself against diseases by attaching themselves to the plant's roots, crowding out pathogenic microbes.

Compost tea or Bio TX 500, sprayed directly on crop leaves, has also been found to prevent certain fungal diseases, and suppress specific disease-causing organisms.

While application rates can vary, most farmers apply compost at the rate of 1-5 tonnes a hectare, however results will be achieved with as little as 250 grams per hectare.

At YLAD Living Soils, additional minerals can be blended with humified compost, creating a custom blend determined by individual soil analysis.

Soil testing and tissue analysis can pinpoint the nutritional needs of the soil and plant at any time in the growing season.

Applying compost can be broadcast any time of the year, preferably six weeks before sowing.

Other applications can be applied when the need for moisture holding capacity, disease control and higher yields with less inputs are needed.

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