On the topic on sheet mulch composting in place versus composting
in piles or windrows, I'd say it depends on the situation. The
method you described certainly works. Worms like that type of
mulch and decay. In practice, it seems limited to home gardens
and small-scale market gardens.
The benefits and uses of compost as a stable humus product
containing numerous exchange sites and microbials are well known.
I came across the following Sanet post by Ann Clark back in 1995,
that contains some relevant ideas. Here it is again.
>From: "E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor"
>Organization: Crop Science, The Univ. of Guelph
>Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 09:57:06 EDT
>Subject: Re: Humus -- rural -> urban -> rural
Responding to Dick R. on the issue of composting. Just curious about
the comment that it is better if composting occurs in the soil. Just
finished an M.Sc. student doing a study on composting and we didn't
come across this idea in the lit. I'd be interested in learning what
it is that is more beneficial about composting in-situ - in the soil -
as against ahead of time. Evidence from the literature?
Conventional organic wisdom hereabouts sees placement of raw manure
directly into the soil as a net negative, because of a) rapid release
of N which destabilizes cycling, b) VFA's which can be caustic, and c)
potential for anaerobic decomposition when high moisture substrate
(whether animal manure or direct cut red clover) is plowed into the
soil. As an example, they recommend cutting and wilting red clover
plowdown before plowing it in, to avoid this problem.
Good points on "waste" management at landfills! Ann
Dr. E. Ann Clark
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX: 519 763-8933
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