Among the core cultural practices associated with organic farming, composting is closely tied to the law of return that encourages recycling of materials. Com-posting involves the collecting of natural materials from diverse “waste” streams and consolidating them to achieve conditions favorable for rapid aerobic biological decomposition of compost heating and turning are designed to encourage practices that will kill human pathogens. The destruction of plant pathogens and weed seeds is a further benefit of the process.
This highly valued practice in organic farming is widely neglected in mod-ern agricultural management. Oft en practiced without an ecological foundation, most conventional agriculture separates livestock from crop production and treats manures and other natural materials as a liability, because they are bulky and expensive to transport, or simply as a waste product in need of disposal. The frequent failure of conventional agriculture, as a result of poor farming system design, to effectively recycle and utilize natural waste products for sustainable soil fertility management has increased the need to manufacture chemical fertilizers as a replacement.
Through a renewable agricultural system that effectively recycles nutrients, minerals can be reused repeatedly to grow crops and livestock without exhausting this vital resource. Everyone who consumes food and fiber products from agriculture has a responsibility to participate in the recycling of nutrients embedded in natural waste products back to the soil. Food wastes, such as peelings, bones, and spoiled leftovers, that are placed in landfills instead of compos-ted and returned are lost opportunities for building and maintaining soil fertility for future generations. Even if these food wastes are composted by the consumer, they rarely find their way back to soils on the farms from which they came