A Composting F.A.Q.
What is compost?
Compost consists of organic matter that has been decomposed and is used as a fertilizer and soil additive. Damp, or wetted, organic material such as leaves, grass clippings, plant-based food waste, manure, etc., are collected into a pile (heap) large enough for substantial biological decomposition to occur.
What is the biological process which produces compost?
Compost is vegetable matter that has turned into humus. Humus is the organic matter that has reached a stable state where there will no longer be decomposition. It takes time (weeks to months) for the compost heap to turn to humus. The time and process will be aided by shredding the plant matter and turning it occasionally. Worms and fungi aid in the decomposition. Aerobic bacteria manage the process by turning water and vegetable into heat, carbon dioxide, and ammonium. The ammonium is the converted into nitrites and nitrates (nitrification).
What are the benefits of compost?
Compost is rich in plant nutrients. It is used in agriculture, horticulture, gardens and landscaping. It is a natural pesticide. It can be used to control soil erosion. In commercial quantity, it can be used to produce biogas.
Which micro-organisms produce compost?
- Bacteria are the most numerous organisms.
- Actinomycetes, or actinobacteria, are a group of bacteria needed to decompose paper products and bark.
- Fungi, such as mold and yeasts, will break down woody debris that bacteria cannot.
- Protozoa to consume bacteria and fungi.
- Rotifers consume bacteria and small protozoa.
- Additionally, worms aerate the heap on an ongoing basis and create drainage tunnels throughout the heap.
The lack of a healthy micro-biotic environment is the reason why landfills, for example, do not provide an efficient composting ecosystem.
What is needed for composting organisms to work?
The micro-organisms require carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and water. Composting works best with a carbon to nitrogen ratio of about thirty to one.