Some gardeners use the terms “humus” and “compost” interchangeably. Although they are beneficial to the crops, they differ in many ways. The ultimate product of the degradation process is humus. Meanwhile, compost refers to a stage in that process when decomposed organic material benefits the soil the best. If you need a detailed answer to the differences between humus and compost, let’s dig into basic soil terminology! Organic Material Vs. Organic Matter To understand the differences between humus and compost, you must first understand the distinction between organic matter and organic material and how each benefits the soil. Soil includes five ingredients: parent material, moisture, gas, living organisms, and organic matter. The term “organic matter” refers to two phases of dead animals or plants in the soil. Organic material refers to the dead animals and plants in the process of decomposition. It includes dead insects, worm castings, and animal carcasses. When organic material has entirely degraded, the organic matter remains the stable, fibrous element. The organic matter is inert. Hence, it does not influence the soil’s chemical characteristics. What Is Humus? Humus is the backbone of organic materials. Some people define it as a naturally-developed compost. Finished compost contributes humus to the earth. You can also find it on the jungle floor, where leaves and organic materials naturally degrade. You can make humus-rich soil by adding composts to the soil. Otherwise, it can develop when vegetation breaks down and turns into a part of the soil. This material is spongy, allowing it to store up to 90% of its water content. So, humus-rich soil can retain moisture efficiently and be more resistant to drought. The sponge also adheres to and retains essential minerals for plants, such as calcium and phosphorus. Plants will absorb these vital nutrients through their root system.

The soil can be more resistant to drought