Compost & Disease Suppression in Soils

Studies dating back to the late 19th century show that compost can reduce the occurrence and severity of common plant diseases caused by fungi, nematodes and bacteria.

More recent research has shown that all significant diseases affecting vegetable production in New South Wales can be suppressed by the use of compost.

These plant diseases include:

  • Wilt caused by Fusarium spp. (species)
  • Damping off caused by Fusarium, Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Sclerotium spp.
  • Stem and root rot caused by Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Sclerotium and Aphanomyces species.

Compost encourages healthy plants that are better equipped to fight off disease and increases in yield are often an added benefit of improving soil and plant health

Adding compost to soil improves soil physical and chemical properties and increases the number and diversity (different types) of bacteria and fungi in soil. These changes encourage healthier plants that are better able to withstand
diseases while limiting disease-causing microbe populations.
Improving soil and plant health The relationship between compost and healthy soils and healthy plants has been shown in many studies. Compost contributes to healthy soils and plants in at least three important ways:

  1. By increasing the soil organic matter (soil carbon) that is vital for good crop growth
  2. By improving soil structure and moisture retention, making water available for your plants when they need it, and
  3. By increasing the amount of nutrients that are available to plants and steadily releasing nutrients over time.

 

Healthy plants are better able to resist diseases. So, by improving soils’ ability to produce healthy and robust plants, compost also protects your plants against disease. Increases in yield are often an added benefit of using compost in your cropping systems. 

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