Is topdressing with compost worth it?

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kevreh
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Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby kevreh » March 31st, 2017, 7:34 pm

Gotta admit, been a few years since I spread compost. Talking about the stuff you can buy by the yard at your local garden center. Is it really worth it? Is it only a short term boost? Will it add beneficial micro's to my soil?
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andy10917
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby andy10917 » March 31st, 2017, 7:51 pm

If you're looking for a specific, visible impact to determine an ROI on a "compost investment", compost isn't for you. If you're looking for something that will steadily (if slowly) build more quality OM, add some microbial activity and act as a mild "general tonic", then you're more aligned with what it can do.
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kevreh
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby kevreh » March 31st, 2017, 8:05 pm

:good:
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Dchall_San_Antonio
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby Dchall_San_Antonio » June 12th, 2017, 1:55 pm

In my location high quality compost is readily available at about $70 per cubic yard, delivered. One cubic yard covers 1,000 square feet so the cost is $70 per 1,000 square feet.

Alfalfa pellets, my favorite organic fertilizer, is available for $12.50 per bag and 1 bag covers 3,000 at 15 pounds per 1,000. So the cost per 1,000 is about $4.

1 cubic yard of compost has about the same nutrition as 15 pounds of alfalfa pellets. My vote will always be for the real fertilizer and not for the compost.
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby GeorgiaDad » June 15th, 2017, 11:06 am

I'm with Dchall. Alfalfa pellets are my favorite o.f.. Followed by cracked corn.

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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby bernstem » June 15th, 2017, 6:44 pm

Compost serves a different purpose than fertilizer in my lawn. While it does function as a fertilizer, it is really more of a soil amendment and aims to add organic matter and some microbes. Even so, it takes years of applications to see an effect.
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby bpgreen » June 16th, 2017, 1:39 am

bernstem wrote:
June 15th, 2017, 6:44 pm
Compost serves a different purpose than compost in my lawn. While it does function as a fertilizer, it is really more of a soil amendment and aims to add organic matter and some microbes. Even so, it takes years of applications to see an effect.
Is there a typo there?

Did you mean compost serves a different purpose than fertilizer?
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bernstem
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby bernstem » June 16th, 2017, 10:02 am

Yes (I fixed it - thanks!), I was trying to make the point that, for me, addition of N/P/K is not the primary reason I use compost. There are cheaper and easier ways to add macro and micro nutrients. Compost's biggest benefit, in my opinion, is in long-term soil improvement through the addition of organic matter and microbes. The fertilizing that comes with it is simply a side effect.

The typo made that point rather opaque.
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby andy10917 » June 16th, 2017, 7:16 pm

1 cubic yard of compost has about the same nutrition as 15 pounds of alfalfa pellets. My vote will always be for the real fertilizer and not for the compost.
Whoa, David!! Is this the same David that used to give me crap on GW when I was counting N per K from organic sources a decade ago? If not, what did you do with David?
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby Billybob » June 18th, 2017, 12:44 am

Compost is free in my town, so I do about 2 yards at least every other year. The front of my property is only 2500 sqft. So not a lot of labor.

Back yard is low input at 20k sqft so it gets milo and urea few times per season.

The other thing I like about compost is I have a few spots when I water that the sprinkler misses so I hit those spots with compost before a heat wave helps retain wAter.
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Re: Is topdressing with compost worth it?

Postby Dchall_San_Antonio » June 19th, 2017, 2:07 pm

Andy, my stance on compost has swirled around over time. Currently I think of compost as a pile of depleted organic materials. Generally the original foodstuffs had protein and carbohydrates with some food value to the microbes. After months of microbial processing, the nutritional value evolved from food to microbes to other microbes to insects and all that stuff eventually all dies. What is left is the woody bits that take forever to decompose, and the microbes that decompose those woody bits. Also in there are the undecomposable carcasses and byproducts of previous microbes. Essentially it is micro mulch. If you were silly enough to put alfalfa pellets into your compost to heat it up, after a year you have depleted alfalfa pellets that have very little to no remaining nutritional value.

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