New Research Shows SOIL’s Compost Often More Effective Than Chemical Fertilizer

Photo credit: Tony Marcelli

Last June, we introduced our readers to Estrella Ardanza and Susana Perez Bejar, two Cranfield University students who have been busy studying the impact of SOIL’s Konpòs Lakay compost on native Haitian plants for their Master’s theses. After months of hard work and thoughtful collaboration, we’re excited to share that the numbers have been crunched and the theses have been written.

SOIL is dedicated to developing innovative and research-based ecological sanitation solutions here in Haiti and for years we’ve partnered with farmers and research institutions to study the impact of our compost on local core crops. This data has allowed us to refine our composting process, while also enabling us to provide useful advice to farmers on how to encourage the highest return on investments.

Time and time again we’ve seen that farmers can expect a sizable increase in the yield of their harvest when using SOIL’s compost. What we have yet to test, though, is how Konpòs Lakay compost compares to traditional chemical fertilizers on the market. So, that’s just what the students at Cranfield University did. We’ve been anxiously awaiting their findings, and they are finally here!

So what did they learn? Estrella’s research analyzed the impact of compost amendments on the growth of tomato plants by comparing soils that had used either compost or chemical fertilizers. Her research showed that both compost and fertilizer made the tomato plants grow taller. We expected that to be the case, but we hadn’t necessarily expected that the plants receiving SOIL’s organic Konpòs Lakay compost instead of chemical fertilizer actually grew more tomatoes!

Susanna researched the impact of our compost on the moringa tree, known as “the miracle tree” in many parts of the world due to its incredible nutritional properties. What she found was that the total plant biomass, which is the weight of the plant roots, branches, and leaves,  as well as the height of the moringa tree, were both considerably higher for plants that used SOIL’s compost and not traditional chemical fertilizers. But you don’t have to just take our word for it – take a look for yourself, below.

The nutrients from the Moringa trees are stored in its leaves, and when looking at leaf biomass alone, the most efficient fertilization was a mix of half SOIL compost and half chemical fertilizers. This means that it would be possible to reduce the chemical input by partially replacing it with organic compost, all the while increasing leaf production – which is what you want to do if you’re trying to make any of the hundreds of moringa products that are gaining popularity worldwide.

Since 2006, SOIL has safely treated and transformed over 1,800 tons of human waste into rich, organic compost. As we continue to expand our operations throughout Haiti and, as a result, create more and more Konpòs Lakay compost, it’s exciting to think about the impact this will have not just on Moringa trees and tomatoes, but on agricultural and ecological restoration nationwide.

We’re grateful to Estrella and Susana’s important contribution to the field and to SOIL’s work, and we look forward to sharing a link to a published report as it’s available. Until then, follow the links below to learn more about what SOIL has been up to.

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