The Importance of Compost for California’s Central Valley
October 22, 2012
Mark Bittman recently wrote an excellent article for The New York Times Magazine about overfarming in California’s Central Valley, one of the most important agricultural regions on the planet. Though the enormous region is a plant paradise blessed with incredible soil and ideal weather conditions, the misuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as irrigation water are draining the Central Valley’s fertility. Topsoil and water supplies could be abused so badly that California’s farming region might soon face the same fate as the Midwestern Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Wrote Bittman, “There must be, I thought (or fantasized) as I traveled through the valley, some movement toward pushing farmers, big and small, to produce decent food sustainably. Because if there’s not, the valley’s problems will only worsen, and we’d be complicit in destroying one of the country’s greatest resources, one that has served us amazingly well until now.”
The article mentions a number of sustainable solutions that could help the region, including the extraction of minerals from irrigation water and the use of solar cells to power water pumps. Bittman touches on several smaller organic farms in the Central Valley and writes that even Green Giant has converted 15% of its operations to organic farming. Though its use is implied at organic farms, the article does not explicitly mention compost, which is critical to renewing the land’s fertility. If California producers are serious about saving the Central Valley, compost-based soil amendments must be part of the solution.
Harvest’s Tulare facility, in the heart of the Central Valley, is using organic waste materials from this region to create custom-blended compost and mulch products. Farms that use natural soil amendments are able to replenish nutrients in their soil.