The United States has a topsoil problem.
About 75 percent of it is gone, primarily because the large, single-crop farms that dominate American agriculture rely on chemicals and synthetic fertilizers to produce their harvests, depleting natural soil systems in the process.
John-Paul Maxfield thinks compost can help solve this problem. Environmentalists love compost for several reasons, including that it helps divert waste from landfills – the world’s largest source of human-produced methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
But for Maxfield, composting organic matter isn’t so much a waste-reduction issue as it is an ecological and agricultural one. He wants to create a market solution to get compost back into the soil.