Bioremediation is the practice of healing contaminated sites through the application of microorganisms in an effort to remove contaminates. Bioremediation may also be applied to a site in an effort to return it to a healthy condition. In basic terms, the application of compost to depleted garden soil is an act of bioremediation. Organic compost is filled with microbial life forms that will continue to add nutrients to the soil through natural microbe activity.
In 1989, the Exxon-owned oil tanker Valdez crashed into the coastline of the Prince William Sound in Alaska. In an effort to control and clean up the resulting oil spill, bioremediation practices were put into play. Strains of certain bacteria and other organisms were applied to the site via compost and other raw, organic materials. The bacteria and enzymes processed the contaminants and ultimately aided in restarting the natural cycles within the local ecosystem.
The Exxon spill is one example of modern day application of bioremediation to control hazardous materials in a catastrophic situation. In everyday industry, the application of compost for bioremediation is being used for management of storm water run-off and in the revitalization of brownfields, those areas damaged by excessive use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as well as industrial waste.
As companies and government agencies continue to deal with alleviating pollution and controlling contaminants, bioremediation becomes a more attractive and viable solution. Compost, as a result, is being recognized as a means to create bio-filters in spray cans to eliminate volatile organic contaminates, and control emissions from hazardous waste tanks.
Compost remediation may also be applied to areas affected by erosion and urban sprawl. Compost improves soil texture, making the soil a healthy environment that can support plant life on a larger scale. Soil is anchored by plant life, such as trees and shrubbery. When compost is applied to eroding lands, and plants introduced to the area, the erosion is controlled.
As urban development intrudes on natural habitats and wetlands, the ecosystem is damaged. Introducing compost as a means of bioremediation allows for the development of new eco-systems and the revitalization of damaged areas.
Compost bioremediation is applied on a large scale in numerous instances. On a personal scale, individual use of compost helps reduce land and water pollution and helps maintain plant diversity on a local level.
Applying compost to garden soil negates the use of synthetic fertilizers, which leach into the ground and water. This leaching is a form of pollution. By using organic compost in the garden, the land and water is continually being revitalized by the naturally occurring bioremediation of the compost. This localized improvement in water and soil encourages new growth of indigenous plants. The local eco-system is restored and maintained through the process of compost remediation.