Compost

Vital for Sustainable Agriculture

What is compost?

Composting is the natural process of decomposition in which microorganisms consume organic matter (nitrogen and carbon compounds) under controlled conditions. Compost is a rich source of organic matter and plays an important role in retaining soil fertility and is vital for sustainable agriculture.

Environment for Composting

Aside from oxygen the microorganisms require moisture and suitable amounts of carbon and nitrogen. The moisture creates the medium in which the microorganisms live, the carbon provides energy and nitrogen serves as the building blocks required for their reproduction

Compost Recipe

In order for microbial activity to occur:

· Moisture 50-60%

· Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio (C: N) 20-1 to 30-1

· pH 6.5-7.5

· Bulk Density <1,000 yards/cubic yards and

· Volatile solids > 40% dry weight basis.

Important Steps

Feedstock Preparation


In order for carbon materials to break down efficiently they need to be grinded. Water must also be added (50-60%)


Mixing

Mixing is the single most important step in creating a successful composting operation. By obtaining a consistent mix you optimize carbon, nitrogen and moisture contact. It also ensures air circulation which promotes aerobic composting.


Pile Formation

The pile should ideally be 5 to 6 feet high and 8- 15 feet in diameter in order for it to reach the appropriate temperature for active composting.

Temperatures

Successful composting operations record daily temperatures from the same location in the pile at the same time.


Curing

Once the pile has completed its active compost phase it must undergo a curing period of 2 to 3 months.

Big image

Agricultural Applications

Compost has many important contributions to sustainable agriculture:

  • Improves the soil structure
  • Improves aeration and drainage
  • Capacity for water storage increases
  • Activates soil microbiological life
  • Organic matter increases
  • Neutralizes pH
  • Resists compaction
  • Fewer pest problems

Big image