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Johnson-Su Composting Bioreactor

How to quickly restore soil health with this low-cost method

Dr. David Johnson (NMSU/CRA) has been doing breakthrough work in regards to the efficacy of biologically correct, fungal-dominated compost for carbon sequestration and improved soil health and crop yields. His method is called BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management) and centers around the products created using the compost creation system he devised with his wife Hui-Chun Su (called the Johnson-Su Bioreactor).

Compost is usually thought of fertilizer, a way of adding nutrients to the soil. BEAM compost actually addresses soil health through soil biology. It replaces soil microbes in soil degraded through conventional agriculture methods. That, along with no-till practices, cover crops and other Regenerative Agriculture practices, enable the normal symbiosis between these microbes and plant roots to occur. Quite quickly, the soil starts to recover, and striking improvements in crop yields and carbon sequestration occurs.


In this Quorum Sense hosted webinar, Dr Johnson gives us an overview of his research as well as practical tips for producing and applying high quality compost for commercial farm systems.

Benefits of Johnson-Su Bioreactor Compost:

  • Increases soil carbon sequestration
  • Increases crop yield
  • Increases soil nutrient availability
  • Increases soil water-retention capacity
  • Produces biologically diverse compost
  • Produces nutrient–rich compost
  • Results in a low-salinity compost
  • Improves seed germination and growth rates

Benefits of Johnson-Su Bioreactor Composting System:

  • Reduces water usage up to six times
  • Reduces composting labor time by 66 percent
  • Requires no turning and little manpower
  • Is a low–tech process that can easily be replicated
  • Can be made using a diversity of compost materials
  • Produces no odors or associated insects
  • Materials generally cost less than $35 USD and can be used for up to 10 times
  • No leaching or groundwater contamination

Making a Johnson-Su reactor

This 12 minute video shows how simple the construction of the Johnson-Su Composting Bioreactor is.

No-turn composting process

Managing Soils for Carbon Sequestration

You can find a extensive YouTube playlist here.

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