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
Aerobic composting takes place in the presence of oxygen and creates CO2, water, ammonia and humus. Turning the pile allows oxygen to circulate and speeds up the process.
Anaerobic composting takes place without the presence of oxygen and creates methane and other undesirable compounds that produce strong odors.
Aerobic VS Anaerobic Composting
Aerobic composting is more efficient because it destroys many human and plant pathogens present as long as the proper heat is maintained. The heat also accelerated the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein and makes processing time shorter.
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.
In order for carbon materials to break down efficiently they need to be grinded. Water must also be added (50-60%)
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.
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.
Successful composting operations record daily temperatures from the same location in the pile at the same time.
Once the pile has completed its active compost phase it must undergo a curing period of 2 to 3 months.
- 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