Thanks for all your good info. I've been following this discussion with
great interest, being an organic farmer. I try to use "complimentary"
agricultural methods- attempting to mimic natural processes rather than
seeking to defeat nature. I'm growing for a 30 family CSA and do some
selling to restaurants in 1/4 acre of permanent beds.
It has occurred to me that composting in piles isn't what nature does.
Nature decomposes dead plant material in thin layers at the soil
surface. This decay process involves soil life of all types- bacteria,
fungi, etc. A hot compost pile is processed by a different ecosystem
since soil life is killed at high temperatures. Cold composting
techniques may be closer to the natural processes. However, sheet
composting, mulching and/or no-till (without herbicides) seems to me to
be closest to natural processes.
In answer to your question about references for soil microbiology
processes, try Dr. Elaine Ingham at:
This is her commercial web site, but it contains some articles. She is
at Oregon State University and searches may turn up some of her
scientific publications on the soil food web.
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