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The Composting Process: An Interview with Jim Brooks of Soilutions, Inc

By Jim Brooks

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Soilutions, Inc. was formed in 1987 by Jim and Karen Brooks of Tijeras, New Mexico to design and implement permaculture landscapes. Permaculture landscapes cooperate with nature by using land, plants, animals, and humans to initiate sustainable relationships. They create sound ecological systems that are economically and biologically viable throughout time. Compost plays a pivotal role in the permaculture system by producing biological and remedial conditions that sustain the ability of the soil to support plants and animals. By establishing the Soilutions Compost Division, we are able to offer locally produced compost; "Made in the Southwest for the Southwest". The Soilutions Compost Facility gathers and composts select organic feed stocks and provides compost, mulch, and related products to nurseries, landscapers, farmers, gardeners, and other stewards of the soil. We provide high quality products and the education and expertise to use them. We hope to enable people to restore the vitality of the soil, maximize the potential of water and live in partnership with natural processes. As an organization, we apply permaculture ideas in many ways. We encourage and facilitate the personal and professional growth of our employees by encouraging active participation in problem solving, by providing opportunities for increased responsibility and compensation and by giving honest, constructive feedback on performance. Our relationships are characterized by trust and integrity with employees and customers, responsibility in our community, and stewardship of the earth.

What are some of the services your company provides?

We provide organics recycling, compost, mulch, food recycling pick up services, erosion control and stormwater management consulting services.

Please explain more about the compost products you offer:

The compost products we make are made from locally recycled organic materials. They are approved for use on certified organic farms and gardens in nm. We offer the knowledge and the experience to guide our customers through the proper use of any landscape materials.

If you could, please walk our readers through the general composting process:

Decomposition is a natural process. We merely accelerate that process. By combining the proper ratio of carbon, water, nitrogen and air, we are providing the correct environment for microbes to process the material. We achieve this ratio by first reducing the particle size of the yardwaste we've collected. Then we blend that material with a nitrogen source. In our case, it is mostly horse manure, grass clipping, and food waste. After several months or years, the material is then screened to ½" and sold as a soil amendment.

Please list some benefits of composting with a short explanation of each:

First and foremost, compost is an excellent moisture retainer. In our climate, the more water we can keep within the root system of a plant, the more benefit that plant will see. Compost also offers micronutrients, beneficial micro-organisms, and humic acid. But there are also peripheral benefits to compost, the compost process, and the compost business. Composting keeps valuable materials out of our landfills. Organics in a landfill environment produce methane (a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide). Recycling supports 5x more jobs than landfilling. Because transportation is a significant factor, compost returns local nutrients back to local soils. Compost supports the local food safety concerns, the local agricultural economy, and advocates knowledge and understanding of the climate, environment, food producer and waste management issues.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

By phone: 877-0220, but we are also available via email. Most of this information is available on our website.

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