Properties of three different composts

Properties of three different composts

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A 15cm flower pot containing three different composts To the left is leaf mould. To the top (rust hue) is a commercial peat-based compost. To the bottom right is a commercial loam based compost. The leaf mould contains mostly organic materials, including small animals, bacteria and fungi. It is poor in plant nutrients and not a good growing medium on its own. The peat-based compost is high in organic material (humus), but has a low mineral content and requires artificial fertilisers to sustain good plant growth. The loam based compost is a mixture of mineral and organic material from loam with added fertilisers. It lacks the coarser mineral particles that are characteristic of a natural soil. Commercial products are subjected to a process of sterilisation. This destroys weed seeds and pathogenic micro-organisms, but also removes beneficial micro-organisms.

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Keywords: biological, biology, botanical, botany, humus, leaf mould, loam, loam-based compost, peat, peat-based compost, soil, soil animals, soil micro-organisms

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