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Script 61.6

Notes to broadcasters

This program is one of a series of scripts in this package involving the characters Philip (Program Host) and Dr. Compost (Peter Composter). Philip is from the city. He has a weak stomach and is sceptical about farming methods. Dr. Compost is from a rural background but has a university education in agriculture. He puts science on a pedestal, but remains true to his humble roots. The dialogue between Philip and Dr. Compost is meant to be humorous and friendly.

In this script Philip and Dr. Compost discuss an easy way to make compost. Compost is an important part of a farmer’s soil fertility program. Farmers in your audience should know that their crops are only as good as the soil in which they grow. Adding compost to the soil is like putting money in the “soil bank.” If the “soil bank” is rich, the crop will be good. But in many parts of the world, the soil is exhausted, yields are poor, and plants are more vulnerable to disease and insect attack.

Compost adds nutrients to the soil. It makes the soil easier to plough. Compost also helps hold moisture in the soil so that it does not dry out. Adding compost can be a cheap and effective way for a small-scale farmer to add nutrients to the soil and keep it fertile. Often the materials needed to make compost are available right on the farm, such as livestock manure, kitchen waste, and crop residues. Farmers save money on expensive fertilizers when they make and use compost.

Script 7 (Make compost in pits) in this package is about another method of making compost, and can be used with this program. Other suggested program ideas about improving soil fertility include:

  • A review of crop rotation practices based on a series of interviews with local farmers
  • Interview with two local farmers who have applied compost to soil; one successfully and one unsuccessfully
  • Why cover crops can improve soil structure
  • The role of worms in your soil fertility program.

Script

Characters

Philip Kwan:
A city radio host
Dr. Compost, Ph.D. (Peter Composter):
Agricultural specialist, about age 70, somewhat forgetful. He has a farming background but also a university education. His problem is that, sometimes, he digresses from the topic. Nevertheless, the information he provides is always interesting, useful and practical.

INTRODUCE THEME MUSIC AND FADE OUT (10 seconds)

Philip
-Welcome to all the listeners out there. Today on the show our guest is Dr. Peter Composter, an agricultural specialist known to many of you as “Dr. Compost.” How are you, Peter?

Dr. Compost
– Very well, Philip, thank you.

Philip
-Now I know you specialize in gardening and agriculture, Peter. But is your family name just a pure coincidence?

Dr. Compost
– (interrupting/a bit outraged) Why do you ask? Actually, if you must know, it’s not a coincidence!

Philip
(surprised) Oh, what do you mean?

Dr. Compost
-You see, several hundred years ago, my ancestor David Dung…

Philip
(bursts into laughter)…Oh, excuse me. I’ll stop laughing.

Dr. Compost
(flustered)Yes, well. As I was saying, my ancestor David Dung decided to put an end to the constant ridicule. So he came up with the word “compost” and called himself David Composter. He thought that the local people would stop laughing. But for the people, whether it was Dung or Composter, it was all the same. Today, however, Compost has a special meaning. And that’s why I’m here and I’m very proud of my name. Let’s look at the facts. Compost is a great way to use waste products and organic matter and to provide nutrients for your field or garden.
Let me explain. Philip, do you eat onions and potatoes?

Philip
-Yes, of course.

Dr. Compost
– Do you know that when they are especially tasty, it’s because they were grown in beautiful compost?!

Philip
-Urghh! Yuck!

Dr. Compost
– Anyway, the reason why compost is special is because it is cheap and full of nutrients. Compost keeps moisture in the soil…

Philip
-And it’s easy to make, isn’t that right?

Dr. Compost:
Yes, but you know making a compost pile requires a certain method.

Philip
– Don’t you just mix food scraps, grass and animal dung(chuckling)…and leave it alone(laughing)?!

Dr. Compost
– Philip!

Philip
-Sorry! This is it. I’ll stop laughing(giggling).

Dr. Compost
– You know, if you simply mix all those food scraps, dead grass and animal dung and leave it to dry under the sun, instead of making a proper compost pile, you will have a stinking pile of dung.

Philip
-What are you supposed to do then?

Dr. Compost
-Keep in mind that composting can be done in a variety of ways. The important thing to remember is that, like humans, a compost pile needs food, water, and air. It needs carbon sources, such as straw and fallen leaves, and nitrogen sources, such as food scraps and manure. And you need the right amount of each. You should turn the pile and watch that the pile isn’t too wet or too dry.

Philip
-But how do I actually start the pile?

Dr. Compost
– First you make a pile of grass, leaves and straw in a very thin layer on top of the soil, in a shady place. Water this well, and on top of that put a layer of food scraps and animal manure. You have to repeat this process, layer after layer until you get a pile about one metre high. Cover this pile with a layer of grass to keep it from drying out.

Philip
-Hmmm…drying out. Would you like a glass of water, Peter?

Dr. Compost
– Not now, thank you. Where was I? Oh, yes. Did you know that millions of microorganisms are at work decomposing the materials, and together they create a lot of heat which helps make composting happen. There are a number of things you can do to help the microorganisms. Would you like to hear them?

Philip
-Okay, Peter, if you must, tell us more about the compost pile.

Dr. Compost
– Chop up all the materials – the straw, the grass, the food scraps – into very small pieces. The pile should be moist – not too dry and not too wet. If it is too dry the process will take a long time. If it is too wet the pile will smell. Turn the compost every two weeks.

Philip
-And when the compost is ready?

Dr. Compost
– You can use it as a fertilizer by mixing it into the soil or you can use it as mulch on the surface of your garden.

Philip
-But Peter, do I have to wait the whole season just to get a little compost to use on a few garden plants…(starts to chuckle)?
Dr. Compost: Laughing again?

Philip
– With all respect…

Dr. Compost
-Well, there is a quicker way to feed your plants some of that nutritious, well-rotted compost.

Philip
-Ugh!

Dr. Compost
-It is delicious and full of nourishment for the plant, trust me. This other method I can tell you about involves less work because all you have to do is dig a bunch of small pits in your garden and dump in some fresh, tasty kitchen waste.

Philip
-Well, I’m afraid we will have to save that discussion for another day as we are out of time today. Thank you Dr. Compost for sharing your ideas about… making a compost pile.

Dr. Compost
-It was my pleasure.

Acknowledgements

Contributed by Sunny Ray, Toronto, Canada.

Reviewed by Susan Antler, Executive Director, The Composting Council of Canada, Toronto, Canada.