Composting organic residues before applying them to soil is a tried and true practice that can, if done correctly, eliminate plant disease organisms, weed seeds, and many (but not all) potentially noxious or undesirable chemicals. Compost provides extra water-holding capacity to a soil, provides a slow release of N, and may help to suppress a number of plant disease organisms as well as enhance the plant’s ability to fight off diseases. Critical to good composting is to have (a) plentiful decomposable Cand N-containing materials, (b) good aeration, (c) moist conditions, and (d) enough size to allow high temperatures to develop. It is also necessary to turn the pile or windrow to ensure that all the organic materials have been exposed to the high temperatures. While these and other good reasons to make and use compost are important considerations, there are also good reasons to directly apply uncomposted organic residues to soil.
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