Soil Health: Composting Organics, A Rational Approach

A long time ago, prior to founding the OK Composting Council, the goal for composting was literally Composting for Local Foods and Soil Health. Few thought the mission was viable favoring industrial or “business” approaches to composting so the mission was dropped by consensus in 2004 for the industrial model to appeal to broader audiences. Yet, the industrial model is limiting or linear in approach and has always bothered me because it doesn’t include farmers and/or all interests which says something about our believes being hedged more in profits over a more balanced or sustainable approach that considers all interests. What are all the interests? We might consider more people like farmers, the soil and those that live in soil or the environment, and profit together instead. The broader and more balanced approach is a systems or sustainable approach.

Taking another view, ever wonder why we throw away organic debris in the first place? It’s probably related to policies and practices that condition us to accept linear ideas and assimilating them overtime as cultural values and beliefs.

Today, some may believe such disposal creates economic development or jobs related to picking up and disposing of organics in landfills and some extend their vision to harvesting biogas from landfills. Yet, if we step out of our culture and examine nature we can find better solutions. The same is true in agricultural systems.

There is no waste in nature or natural systems. Everything in nature is used in place or perhaps moved by wind or water and/or reformed by microbes and used again as nutrients, carbon/water storage, and food. Nature’s system is circular which some educators refer to as systems thinking. Whatever we call repurposing organics, almost everywhere in the world and especially in Oklahoma there is an opportunity to compost organic debris locally to restore soil health and increase soils water storage capacity to ease the costs of producing foods or labor, energy, and input costs. And if we build alternative models or systems whether urban or rural to repurpose organic debris we can reverse the process of landfill disposal and relearn to follow natures guidance where there is no waste and where everything has another purpose which will create jobs and restore soil health and other environmental functions. These are the goals and mission of the agroecology work and educational tours on my farm.

Let’s hope the New Year brings more interest in repurposing of organics to build better soils in Oklahoma and beyond!

Kathy Moore, Owner
Anichini Moore Ranch & Farm
Phone: (405) 823-8295
Founder: OK Composting Council


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