The Natural Choice by Marlene Fritz


To help them determine how much compost to apply to their fields and when that compost will release nitrogen in a form crops can use, Seyedbagheri has studied compost mineralization since 1996. At Jones’ farm, he found that 3 tons of compost per acre is sufficient and that carbon-nitrogen ratios below 20:1 will prevent unwanted bursts of late-season fertilizer.

Seyedbagheri continues his mineralization work on organic farms near Shoshone and Buhl with funding from the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. “Your soil pH, soil organic matter, soil temperature, and moisture all play very pronounced roles in mineralization—and when and how mineralization occurs is very important,” he says. Potatoes, for example, benefit from nitrogen while they are forming tubers but are harmed by nitrogen while they are setting skin.