Compost is a whole universe of diverse organisms, which make up the soil food web. These organisms form the basis of a healthy farm ecosystem and are the key to unlocking fertility in the soil. This presentation approaches compost in terms of ecological succession and discusses different ways to unleash biologically active compost for specific uses on farms and in gardens. We get into the science of how microbes interact with plants to turn organic matter into available nutrients at different levels of succession, and discuss which materials to use in your compost pile to select for the microbial community that will support the specific plant-range you want to thrive. The aim of this talk is to deliver the knowledge of applied soil microbiology in an accessible way, so that people can apply it to the range of farm and garden scenarios.