Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Nature's Way of Composting

 Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan.sa Himpapawid (School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 KHz AM 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday


Rosette arrangement of leaves of Fortune Plant (Dracaena fragrans) works like a funnel, trapping dead leaves, droppings of birds, reptiles, bats and insects.  It serves also as a watershed, collecting water from rain and dewdrops that condense from fog and mist.  All these are ingredients in making compost at varying levels and stages at  the axils of the leaves. The final product is humus, which fertilizes the plant itself, epiphytes and lianas, and generally the surrounding environment. 

Aerial composting holds the secret of self-sustaining ecosystems where epiphytes and lianas, orchids and bromeliads grow on trees and rocks. The final and stable  product which is humus, is carried down by rain and gravity to fertilize yet another community of organisms on the ground and understorey levels.  Which explains the high population density and rich diversity of organisms in rainforests.

This tree-borne bomeliad has a crown that collects water to form a pool that spills down to the lower leaf axils forming a series of pools where insects, frogs and even fish breed.  So with a host of protist organisms. It is a compost tank, where the final products of composting are absorbed as plant nutrients by the plant and the host tree and its symbionts. The organic matter ultimates becomes a part of the forest floor. 

Organic matter is a product of composting leaves and other plant debris.  It is harvested as natural fertilizer for growing vegetables, ornamentals and various crops in gardens and farms. Commercial organic matter is increasing in demand as natural or organic food is becoming popular in lieu of chemically grown crops.


Increasing consciousness of the public on the dangers posed by chemical fertilizers and pesticides has led to the fast growing popularity of natural farming. Actually the key to natural farming is the use of organic fertilizer derived from composting farm wastes such as animal manure and plant residues after harvest. Although comparatively low in nutrient value, organic fertilizer improves soil structure and tilth, enhances biological and nutrient balance, and supplies trace elements absent in commercial fertilizers, thus improves farm’s productivity in the long run. 


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