Food waste and yard waste are a big environment challenge in India. To address this method of composting waste can be adopted. Composting of waste reduces the need to throw it anywhere. Rather, the waste can be dumped in a backyard garden, home garden or farmland to let it decay and become a natural fertiliser or a compost, which is also known as ‘black gold’. It brings host of economic and environmental benefits to the farmer. Read the blog to know more about how to make a compost and what are its benefits.
Compost is an organic matter that become a natural fertiliser through the process of decomposition of organic wastes like vegetable scrap, fruit scrap, dry leaves, etc. The compost provides the much-needed nutrients to the soil to enhance its health and fertility.
One should not confuse compost with organic manure, which is made from animal dung and is a byproduct of rearing of livestock. On the other hand, compost is a collection of different organic waste. However, both are a type of manure and help enrich the soil with nutrients.
The process of composting waste can vary depending on the specific composting method being used. However, the general process typically includes the following steps:
Let us see each one of these steps in brief.
The first step in waste composting is the segregation of organic waste from non-biodegradable materials. This can be done at the source, such as households, commercial establishments, or waste collection centres.
Organic waste, including kitchen scraps, vegetable peels, garden waste, and food leftovers, is separated from plastics, metals, and other non-compostable materials.
In some cases, organic waste is shredded or mechanically processed to reduce its size. This helps in accelerating the composting process by increasing the surface area available for microbial activity.
A bulking agent, such as dry leaves, straw, or wood chips, is added to the organic waste. The bulking agent helps improve aeration, moisture retention, and the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in the compost pile. It also prevents the waste from becoming too compacted and facilitates airflow.
The segregated organic waste, along with the bulking agent, is then formed into a compost pile. The pile can be created directly on the ground or in a composting bin or container, depending on the composting method being used.
Proper moisture content is essential for the composting process. The compost pile should be moist, like a squeezed-out sponge.
If the pile is too dry, it can hinder microbial activity, while excessive moisture can lead to anaerobic conditions and foul odours.
Compost piles require adequate oxygen for the decomposition process. Regular turning or mixing of the pile helps promote aeration and ensures that all parts of the pile undergo decomposition.
It can be done manually using a pitchfork or shovel or mechanically with the use of compost turners or windrow turners.
During composting, the temperature of the pile rises due to microbial activity. It is important to monitor the temperature regularly, as certain temperature ranges are optimal for the breakdown of organic matter and the destruction of pathogens and weed seeds.
Thermometers or temperature probes can be inserted into the pile to track temperature changes.
The duration of the composting process can vary depending on several factors, including the composting method, the composition of the waste, moisture levels, and environmental conditions. Composting can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Regular monitoring of the compost pile's temperature, moisture, and appearance helps determine when the compost is fully decomposed and ready for use.
Once the composting process is complete, the compost is typically left to cure and mature for a certain period. During this time, the compost stabilizes, and any remaining organic matter further decomposes.
Curing can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the desired quality of the compost.
After curing, the compost may be screened or sieved to remove any large particles or undecomposed materials, resulting in a finer, more uniform product. This ensures the quality and consistency of the compost before it is used as a soil amendment or fertilizer.
Composting offers numerous benefits to both the environment and society. Some key advantages include waste reduction and soil enrichment, among others.
Composting waste is a critical environmental process that helps reduce organic waste and maintain soil health. On the other hand, it is economically beneficial as it helps reduce input cost, increase crop yield and income of the farmers. Moreover, it can be easily made at home without requiring any significant investment.
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