How Does Composting Work?

How Does Composting Work / Conserving Valuable Resources

Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as food waste, manure, leaves, grass trimmings, paper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.

Actinomycetes are similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1 gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down materials like tree bark, newspaper, and other hard organic material.

Today, the use of composting to turn organic wastes into a valuable resource is expanding rapidly in many countries, as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive, and as people become more aware of the impact they have on the environment.

How Does Composting Work / Composting Bins

A compost bin is an efficient way of making rich compost and results in fewer yard-trash and garbage bags. Many varieties of compost bins are available commercially. It allows for control of the four factors that affect the speed of decay: oxygen, water, food and temperature.

By managing these factors, the naturally slow process of decay can progress much faster. To work well the compost container need to be moist and needs to have a lot of air circulation. It also should to be 32 to 60 degrees Celsius, to maintain this you need to make sure the pile doesn’t get too small. A good size is 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter or bigger.

Carbon rich material is known as ‘brown’ stuff. Nitrogen rich material is known as ‘green’ stuff. There needs to be a good balance of these two materials to form good quality compost. Too much of either one will result in poor compost.

A healthy compost contains a balance of one-quarter green stuff such as: vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings or manure—to three-quarters brown stuff such as: leaves, straw, grass clippings, shredded paper, coir fiber, wood pellets, or sawdust. In other words, ¼ green matter to ¾ brown matter.

How Does Composting Work / Nature’s Best Fertilizer

During composting micro-organisms from the soil eat the organic (carbon-containing) waste and break it down into its simplest parts. This produces fiber-rich, carbon-containing humus with inorganic nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The micro-organisms break the material down through aerobic respiration.

Through the respiration process, the micro-organisms give off carbon dioxide and heat. The more heat generated, the faster the decomposition occurs. During the composting cycle, the contents need to be mixed approximately weekly.

Compost is a soil conditioner, mulch and fertilizer all wrapped into one. It benefits the environment as a natural fertilizer for gardening and farming.
Sources

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/index.htm
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/questions.htm
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/composting/benefits.htm

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For more information on composting follow these links:

Definition of Composting

Anaerobic Composting

Types of Composting

Composting Techniques

Composting Problems

Composting Materials

Easy Composting

Composting Tips

Commercial Composting

Composting Newspaper

Composting Coffee Grounds

Composting Paper

Pet Waste Composting

Composting Dog Poop

Kitchen Waste Composting

Food Waste Composting

Composting Toilet Prices

Solar Composting Toilets

Self-Contained Composting Toilet

Composting Manure

Garden Composting

Soil Composting

Composting Grass

Composting Leaves

Worm Composting

Red Worm Composting

Composting Equipment

Worm Composting Bins

Composting Drum

Composting Bins

Composting For Kids

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