Earth day is right around the corner (tomorrow!) and we feel that composting and using finished compost are one of the best ways to make our DMV region more sustainable.
The words compost and composting are often used to mean the same thing. In our compost business, we use “composting” to mean the process of collecting and processing organic materials. “Compost” means the finished product that, as a soil amendment / soil conditioner, improves soil health and grows better plants.
Even though there is a subtle difference, it's easiest to talk about the benefits when combined.
Compost enriches the soil
Compost is a valuable organic fertilizer and soil amendment. Gardeners love this 'black gold' because it improves soil structure, enhances moisture retention, and provides essential nutrients to plants. By adding compost to the soil, it replenishes organic matter and improves the overall health and fertility of the soil. This, in turn, promotes healthy plant growth, increases crop yields, and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.
Keep your eye out for our upcoming series on soil and soil health. Since growing plants and lawns all start with the soil, this a critically important but often overlooked thing!
Composting reduces waste
Often called waste diversion, composting helps divert organic waste from ending up in landfills. When organic materials such as food scraps, yard trimmings, and agricultural residues are composted, they are broken down naturally by microorganisms, resulting in the formation of compost.
If organic materials, like food and yard waste, are placed in a landfill, they don’t have access to oxygen. As they break down, they produce of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In fact, according to the EPA, methane gas is up to 84x more harmful for the environment than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.
Compost sequesters carbon
Compost plays a role in carbon sequestration, the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. First, food and yard waste contain carbon and this carbon is returned to our soils when we use bulk or bagged compost. Second, the photosynthesis process takes carbon dioxide from the air and, after a bunch of cool things happen, we end up with carbon dioxide in the soil. This helps put carbon (through carbon dioxide) into the soil, helping reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Compost reduces soil erosion
The use of compost helps prevent or reduce soil erosion. By improving soil structure and moisture retention, compost enhances the ability of the soil to resist erosion caused by wind or water. When applied to areas such as gardens, agricultural fields, or restoration sites, compost acts as a protective layer, reducing soil erosion and preserving valuable topsoil.
Compost improves water quality
Compost aids in the protection of water quality. When applied to soils, compost assists in reducing the runoff of pollutants into water bodies. It enhances the soil's ability to absorb and retain water, reducing the amount of runoff and preventing the transport of pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides into rivers, lakes, and groundwater.
I think it’s impressive how compost can improve our local water quality and have more information in our blog post about how compost helps protect the Chesapeake Bay.
Overall, composting and using finished compost is an environmentally friendly practice that promotes sustainable waste management, soil health, and helps mitigate climate change while supporting the growth of healthy plants and ecosystems. Finished compost in bulk or bagged form is often called ‘black gold.’ When we think of all of the environmental benefits that the composting process has, it might also be considered a green gold!
If you’d like to start composting or using finished compost, we have more information about how you can drop off organic materials at our composting facility in Manassas, VA, and we sell bulk and bagged compost in Prince William County.
About Freestate Farms' Compost & Mulch Facility
Freestate Farms makes premium landscaping products—compost, topsoil, and mulch—by recycling food and yard waste in Manassas, VA. Our composts, topsoil, and mulches are specially designed to increase the health and productivity of local soils, and with our focus on sustainable practices, this lets the environment and your garden Grow Good, together. We sell bulk compost, bagged compost, bulk natural mulches, bulk dyed mulches, bagged dyed mulches, and bulk topsoil for pickup and delivery.