What Nutrients Can Be Found in Compost?

Compost pile next to tree

What nutrients are in compost? -David

Compost contains the full spectrum of plant nutrients, although the exact amounts vary from sample to sample. Well rotted compost is rich in all of the three main fertilizer nutrients:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

In addition, compost contains micronutrients and trace minerals that are often missing from commercial fertilizer, such as:

Red rose blooming in garden

  • Sulfur
  • Carbon
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Boron
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

If that weren’t enough, compost also:

  • Regulates soil pH.
  • Improves soil texture.
  • Regulates moisture.
  • Encourages microbes critical in transferring nutrients to plant roots.

So not only does compost contain nutrients in slow release organic form, but it makes those nutrients more available to your plants. Compost is nature’s ultimate organic fertilizer and soil conditioner, and it’s gentle enough to use generously on your plants.

The most nutritious compost is made from a wide variety of waste materials from the yard and kitchen, with a mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) waste. The greater the variety of compost ingredients, the richer the compost.

Holding composted soil in hand

For example, shredded leaves are higher in carbon and trace minerals while composted manure is higher in nitrogen. Well-rotted and thoroughly mixed compost should have a good balance of everything your garden needs.

As you practice with composting, you may want to send samples of the finished product for compost testing (similar to a soil test) to learn how your compost measures up. Compost testing will tell you the carbon/nitrogen ratio, pH, and nutrient analysis, along with particle size and moisture content. You can find information about compost testing at your local agricultural extension office.

Further Information


  1. In the not so far future compost will be badly needed to enrich the henceforth fallow lands left un-attended and unused for agriculture. The fertile and rich soils are already being fast usurped by housing societies for quick and easy money. Then, barren lands will have to be put to use with the help of compost to grow food.

  2. Very nice information!
    Using more compost and recycling organic matters we not only get rid of waste product but also get bio-fertilizers


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