ECN Factsheet on SOM

Sustainable Use of Compost and Digestate to improve Soil Organic Matter

Companying the S.O.S. Soil initiative ECN has published an overall factsheet on the ’Sustainable use of compost and digestate to improve soil organic matter’.

The organic matter content of most of Europe’s arable soils is decreasing. This has important implications, as these soils:

  • Are less productive – that is, they grow fewer crops;
  • Hold onto less water – this means that they dry out quicker in the summer months when water is scarce, and are not as good at absorbing water when it does rain, therefore increasing the likelihood of flooding;
  • Store less carbon – this is because soil organic matter is mostly carbon, and it can stay in the soil for many decades if not centuries.

Sustainable and productive agriculture is therefore dependent upon both adequate levels of soil organic matter and the supply of plant nutrients. Adding compost to soil therefore increases a soil’s organic matter content, and this has been shown in numerous long-term trials. It is also thought that once applied to soil, the organic matter fraction is further transformed by soil microbes into more stable forms, meaning that it stays in the soil for longer.

The factsheet ’Sustainable use of compost and digestate to improve soil organic matter’ can be accessed here .