Editor's Choice: 4 of the Best Books on Composting and Soil Improvement

Soil Management: Compost Production and Use in Tropical and Subtropical Environments
by H. W. Dalzell, et. al. 1987
A practical and thorough compost handbook for fieldworkers in the tropics, published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1987 is Soils Bulletin 56, entitled Soil Management: compost production and use in tropical and subtropical environments. Written by the Compost Studies Group of the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham with Howard Dalzell of Concern, Dublin this manual is geared for extension workers and smallholders, with a direct and effective delivery.

The purpose of the book is to promote the use of locally available waste resources to regenerate the soils and to combat the effects of wind and water erosion in the tropics where these effects are intensified. Chapters cover the principles of composting, materials for composting, practical composting processes, uses of composting, environmental aspects, economic and social aspects. A chapter on the education and training of farmers and extension workers in composting skills is particularly useful to those working in extension at the village level.
Available through :

Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy

in the USA:

4611-F Assembly Drive
Lanham, MD 20706 U.S. $18.
ISBN 92-5102553-3

The Dynamics of Soil Organic Matter in Tropical Ecosystems
Coleman David, C., et al. 1989.
This book is the product of an assembly of international scientists who have compiled their knowledge of The Dynamics of Soil Organic Matter in Tropical Ecosystems. What began as a questionnaire to 100+ scientists, was followed with a 1988 conference hosted by the NifTAL Project and the University of Hawaii, resulted in this book. The chapters are communally written and focus on different aspects of the ecological interactions that regulate soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics in Tropical ecosystems.

The chapters cover; The Constituents of Organic Matter in Temperate and Tropical Soils, SOM as a Source and a Sink of Plant Nutrients, Interactions of SOM and Variable-Charge Clays, Biological Processes Regulating Organic Matter Dynamics in Tropical Soils, Organic Input Management in Tropical Ecosystems, Modeling SOM Dynamics in Tropical Soils, and Methodologies for Assessing the Quantity and Quality of Soil Organic Matter. Coleman David, C., Oades, Malcom, J., Uehara, Goro. The Dynamics of Soil Organic Matter in Tropical Ecosystems, University of Hawaii Press. 1989.

Order from:

University of Hawaii Press
Order Dept. 2840 KKolowalu St.
Honolulu, HI 96822 USA. Price: US $30.
ISBN 0-8248-1251-4

Fertile Soil: A Grower's Guide to Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers
by Robert Parnes Ph.D. The book focuses on soil fertility, fertilizers, and crop nutrient requirements. Practical and useful to farmers, extension agents and researchers, the guide provides detailed technical information on building soil fertility, while reducing chemical use and improving tilth and water penetration.

Fertile Soil is a complete reference on organic materials such as animal manures, straw, compost and cover crops, as well as many different types of fertilizers. The nutrient potential of a variety of fertilizers, plants requirements and the effects of various fertility systems on fruit, leafy and root crops are charted. Chapters on the major and minor fertilizer nutrients explain their role and how to supply them.
Parnes, Robert D., Ph.D. Fertile Soil: a Growers Guide to Organic and Inorganic Fertilizers. 1989, ag Access, P.O. Box 2008, Davis, CA 95617.

Organic Waste Recycling
by Chongral Polprassert, 1989
Organic Waste Recycling, by Chongral Polprasert was originally written as a graduate course textbook for an introductory course of the same name. It offers a technical explanation of the principles involved in composting, biogas production, algae production and fish production, aquatic weeds and their uses, and land treatment of wastewater and sludge. Each chapter involves basic information describing the principle involved with each process.

Prior knowledge in environmental engineering and biological waste treatment may be necessary, as the explanations are highly technical. This book may be of particular use to those involved in policy-making concerning waste disposal to increase understanding of the principles involved.
Polprasert, Chongrak. Organic Waste Recycling. John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 1989.

If you require a monthly infusion of information on the state of composting, BioCycle magazine has been covering the subject since 1960. This journal of waste recycle looks at the many facets of recycling, composting, land applying solid waste and sludge. The most recent technologies are covered as well as: the political and economic aspects of recycling, innovative marketing strategies, community-wide recycling projects of all scales, and health issues. From big industry to the backyard, Biocycle covers "research on the recycling edge". BioCycle also hosts an annual National Conference.
BioCycle, a journal of waste recycling, published monthly by The J.G. Press, 18 S. 7th St., Emmaus, PA 18049, annual subscription $55.

The USDA publishes a listing of 233 publications on Composts and Composting of Organic Wastes (NAL-BIBL. QB 89-59). Part of the Quick Bibliography Series by the National Agricultural Library, This bibliography and others in the series can be obtained by sending a self-addressed gummed label to U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Public Services Division, Room 111, Beltsville, Maryland 20705.