Composting 101

Composting 101

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Composting 101

Composting can significantly reduce the amount of wasted food that is thrown away [1]. It is one of the most important alternatives for organic waste. It can be used for the recycling of garbage into useful products and it is also used to overcome the increase of waste.

 

Composting means the degradation of solid organic substances. During this process, we get useful content too. Double win for humanity!

 

Human activities are gradually depleting essential substances from the ecosystem. There come various negative impacts that might place all living things in an unhealthy environment. Hence, we need to do certain things to replenish these substances fast. 30 percent of what we throw away can be composted and can be added to soil to help plants grow [2].

 

WHAT IS COMPOST?

 

Compost is any decayed organic material, such as waste, manure, leaves, grass clippings, dead plants and animals. They are considered useless due to their appearance or how we dispose of them. However, they are a resource.

 

TYPES OF COMPOSTING

 

The composting implied varies with the organism involved. Some bacteria utilize oxygen for their action while others don’t. The organism in question might even survive with or without oxygen. Whichever way, there are three types of composting.

  • Aerobic
  • Anaerobic
  • Vermicomposting

 

Aerobic Composting

This type of composting needs air for the breaking down of materials quickly.

 

Procedures:

  • Place scrapes at a well-aerated location.
  • Add nitrogen-rich green matter such as grass clippings.
  • Pour water, to moisture it and turn frequently.

 

Observation:

The scraps attract aerobic bacteria. These bacteria act on it and its green matter nitrogen upon visitation. During this process, heat is released, which also catalyzes to speed up the whole process.

 

Downside

Aerobic composting demands lots of space and water.

 

Anaerobic Composting

Anaerobic composting is just the opposite of the composting explained above. It is the breakdown of composts in the absence of air.

 

Procedures

  • Put any compost in an airtight container.
  • Add a nitrogen-rich matter.
  • Avoid contact with water.

 

Observation

This culture invites anaerobic bacteria and foul smell due to its activities.

 

Downside

Decomposers who are not well adapted to this kind of airless environment might die of suffocation.

 

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting deals with macro decomposers such as earthworms. These creatures do the composing with oxygen and moisture.

 

Procedures

  • Drop a non-acidic vegetable or fruit scraps
  • Watch as the organisms move towards it.

 

Observation

Little odour denotes the action of the worm.

 

Economic importance of composting

 

Landfills

In the course of composting, a given piece of land could be filled with matter when the topography of such land is irregular.

 

Methane production

The odour perceived from abandoned landfills [2] resulting from decomposers actions is a mixture of different gasses. One of which is hydrocarbon, in which methane exists. It can be extracted and stored for commercial purposes.

 

Improves soil fertility

Composts have no influence on soil without bacteria, fungi and macro-decomposers like earthworms acting on them. Once composts are left on the soil surface, these decomposers feed saprophytically on them. This process induces the breakdown of compost to its unit, releasing vital minerals, (nitrogen, iron, sodium, carbon dioxide) that can make the soil fertile.

 

We cannot overemphasize the impact of composting on the soil. That’s why gardeners, farmers and agricultural companies ensure that fertilizers produced have a high proportion of composts. It contributes to plants’ major and minor nutrients for healthy growth. This improves soil texture and structure. And farmers can enjoy better yield as the soil better holds the right amount of air, nutrients, and moisture.

 

Negative Effects Of Composting

A few disadvantages are inevitable and here are some of them.

  • Global warming
  • Air pollution
  • Explosion

 

Greenhouse gases

We know that the efferent from a composting matter is a mixture. Carbon dioxide released accumulates in the atmosphere. It speeds up the depletion of the Ozone layer – a shield in the upper atmosphere stopping the high intensity of sun rays from reaching the earth’s surface. An increase in carbon dioxide will spontaneously induce heat effect [2].

 

Air pollution

The odour perceived is unhealthy and might cause sickness.

 

Explosion

Methane is flammable. A temperature rise in the environment might lead to an explosion.

 

Composting can be a great way to eliminate waste in the environment or transform it into useful minerals. If you wish to do composting, ensure you have a composter. Then, evaluate the positive and negative effects of your decision.

 

References

[1] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Types of Composting and Understanding the Process

[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Composting At Home