The purpose of compost analysis is:
- Compost contains a full spectrum of essential nutrients for plant growth. Although Compost is not a fertilizer, it is a growing media when used as an amendment to existing soil intended to improve the overall fertility and tilth of the soil. Compost should be analyzed for its nutrient content prior to use so that nutrient levels can be identified, and the compost used in the right application.
Compost releases its nutrients slowly, over several months or years. Soils that are enriched with compost improve soil tilth, moisture holding capacity and adds organic life to the soil. Compost buffers soils in that it balances both acid and alkaline soils, bringing pH levels into the optimum range for nutrient availability. Compost increases the soil’s ability to retain water and decreases its potential runoff. A five percent increase in organic matter quadruples the soil’s ability to store water. Compost promotes healthy root growth, as well as decreases the need for chemical pesticides because it contains beneficial microorganisms that protect your plants from diseases and pests.
To obtain good quality compost it is important that certain quality control measures are in place to ensure a usable finished product. Poorly composted materials or immature compost can be very harmful to plant growth when added to the soil or used as a potting media Maintaining a consistent raw material source will help in simplifying the process but routine sampling of the raw material will identify any inconsistencies so that adjustments can be made to the mix. Once the parameters of the raw materials are known proper blending following the basic principle of compost management will ensure uniform quality product.
Compost is typically heterogeneous (i.e. varying composition throughout) in nature. Proper sample collection is critical to achieve meaningful analytical results. The goal during sampling is to collect a representative sample. A representative sample reflects the average nature of the compost that is being sampled.
Important aspects to keep in mind while collecting a sample include:
- Collection of a number of increments (i.e. sub-samples)
- Use of sampling apparatus that will not have an impact on analytical results
- Use of proper sample container, labeling procedures and storage procedures
- Provision of appropriate instructions to the laboratory that will be undertaking analysis.
- The representative 500g sample should be placed in a clean, dry and labeled container (e.g. sealable plastic bag or rigid plastic container).
- Complete the request form and submit to the laboratory for analysis
For more information, please contact:
Bemlab: 021 853 1490