Get our free book on rainwater now - To Catch the Rain.

Difference between revisions of "Composting"

From Appropedia
Jump to: navigation, search
m (merge)
 
(70 intermediate revisions by 5 users not shown)
Line 2: Line 2:
 
{{TOCright}}
 
{{TOCright}}
  
'''Compostation''', '''humification''', or '''assisted aerobic digestion''' is the decomposition of [[green manure]] (sometimes with [[feces]]) into [[humus]] using aerobic bacteria. Humification using ie bins, ... is a way to speed up the aerobic digestion process by creating a suitable environment for bacteria and other microorganisms. The resulting humus looks, feels and smells like fertile garden [[soil]]. Humas can make a soil rich, able to retain (more) water, and encourages a healthy [[ecosystem]] of [[soil microorganisms]].
+
{{merge from|Compost (PermaWiki)}}
  
Humification is a key part of [[Soil|sustainable soil management]]. Compost works wonders on all kinds of soil and contains valuable [[Plant nutients|nutrients]] (N,P,K,S,Mg,Ca) to help plants grow and stay healthy.
+
'''Composting''' is the partial decomposition of organic materials by aerobic or anaerobic processes. Composting techniques create moist environments that stimulates to growth of decomposer [[microbes]]. This has the effect of "stabilising" the nutrients, sanitising pathogens in the organic material and producing a useful [[soil amendment]]. There are a wide range of approaches to composting that require different infrastructure, inputs, and produce different outputs.
  
==Purpose of composting ==
+
== Inputs ==
The purpose of composting is two-fold:
+
 
* It reduces the amount of "waste" (plant matter, feces) considerably. It is thus useful as a "waste management technique"
+
*organic matter - the larger the pieces the slower the decomposition
* It creates [[humus]] from the plant matter, which is a very useful compound in [[farming]]. It is useful for this as
+
*nitrogen - a moderate carbon to nitrogen ratio of around 25:1 is required for hot aerobic composting.
** it improves soil structure, improves aeration, water-retention, erosion problems, and makes the soil easier to work with.
+
*water - rapid bacterial decomposition requires a moist but not soggy environment.
** it adds nutrients to the soil. The organic acids in compost make nutrients more available.  Compost is mostly humus, which is negatively charged so nutrients that are positively charged such as Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Sodium and most trace minerals attach to it. Because plant roots are surrounded by hydrogen ions that are also positively charged, the plants "bargain" with the humus exchanging some of their positive hydrogen ions for positive nutrients.
+
 
 +
== Outputs ==
 +
 
 +
*Cool compost piles produce insects and worms.
 +
*Well built aerobic composting produces heat.
 +
*At the end of composting you have relatively stable [[humus]].
 +
 
 +
== Purpose of composting ==
 +
 
 +
There are two main purposes of composting:
 +
* it is a waste management technique as it reduces the volume of waste materials. In some circumstances it may also have a beneficial sanitising effect on dangerous microbial pathogens in the waste
 +
* creation of compost from the plant matter, which is a very useful compound in [[farming]]. It is useful for this as
 +
** it improves soil structure, improves aeration, water-retention, erosion problems, and makes the soil easier to work.
 +
** when used as mulch, it slows the growth of competitive weeds between rows and around plants. See [[mulching]] for further details.
 +
** it adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil. As a sponge holds water, so organic matter helps to retain nutrient ions in the soil that the plants need to grow.  These nutrients may not have originated in the compost - so soils with higher levels of organic matter can be said to be more fertile than those with much lower levels.
  
 
== Composting process ==
 
== Composting process ==
Compost piles need:
 
*Air & moisture: composting only works with a minimum of water, but bear in mind that it is still an aerobic process: when there is too much water, too little air is present for the bacteria to develop and the plant waste is little converted. As a general rule of thumb the pile should be as moist as a squeezed out sponge.
 
*Food: organic matter containing carbon and nitrogen
 
*Warmth: decomposition will continually slow down as the temperature gets below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and will stop altogether if it freezes. 
 
  
Composting is done trough the digestive action of several living organisms:
+
Compost needs:  
#Small animals, e.g. worms - these break down organic matter and soil further and make [[plant nutrients]] available.
+
*Oxygen and water: whilst composts can be too dry, it is more of a problem when it is too wet, as the water displaces oxygen within the matrix, which may prevent efficient aerobic microbial activity.
#Very small organisms, "microbes" or microorganisms.
+
*Easy sources of nitrogen and carbon: limitations in either may lead to reduced growth of beneficial microbes
 +
*Optimal temperatures:  'friendly' compost microbes multiply at higher temperatures.
  
In the event that manure is used in the compost pile (not essential; only carbon, nitrogen and water is essential), we could consider large animals (e.g. cows) part of the process, forming the first chain.
+
When conditions are not optimal, the process may be slowed, may not happen at all, or may not destroy harmful microbial pathogens.  Care should be taken as it is possible to have areas of poor conditions within a compost heap that is performing well. High or low levels of moisture may also have a impact on the length of time it takes for the organic material to stabilise into compost. Compost is dark in colour (exact colour will depend on the materials used), consistent (in the sense that it is hard to identify what was used to make it), is fairly fine and does not contain many contaminants (such as pieces of plastic, large pieces of wood and pieces of uncomposted wastes).  In most places with good management, stable compost can be produced within 8 weeks.  '''However''' systems which are not ideal (sometimes known as cold composting may take a lot longer.  Composting toilets should be left to mature for at least a year after use and may still not be fully stable.
  
=== C/N ratio===
+
Composting is the cumulative digestion effect of many different kinds of organism and may involve several different steps and various types of organism, which may include worms, microbes and other biota.
{{Main|In-depth explanation of bin composting}}
+
Compost piles are made according to a specific ratio of carbon materials to nitrogen. This ratio should generally be 30:1, C:N. Smaller ratio's are also possible, but not larger ones than 30:1 or 35:1. The carbon/nitrogen ratios of different materials are explained in [[In-depth explanation of bin composting]].
+
  
Although it is true that to make a suitable compost pile, we need to alternate "green" with "brown" layers, these colored layers however do not differ in the carbon or nitrogen ratio. Instead, green layers are just needed as they contain more water, which is needed for the composting to occur at all (it's thus not essential as we can simply add additional water aswell). The "brown layers"  refer to layers high in carbon content (ie dried leaves, dried stems, dried roots, ...); -they don't refer to feces however-. We best remember of each element what it contains:
+
== Composting Approaches ==
* [[manure]] aswell as [[urine]] contains very high amounts of nitrogen
+
* [[green manure]] (freshly or recently cut plant matter) contains water and carbon
+
  
Note that the C/N ratio can be varied a bit depending on the type of composting you want. If you want a hot, rapidly composting pile, use a relatively higher amount of nitrogen (ie 25:1), if you want a cooler, more slowly composting pile, use more carbon (ie 35:1).
+
*'''[[aerobic composting]]''' - the careful assembly of materials and moisture into a pile that rapidly heats up either in a windrow or a bin, to produce a high quality compost that can be used in gardens, particularly for clean cultivation.
 +
*'''[[anaeroboic composting]]''' - Also known as the Indore method, where materials are kept moist in a sealed container in the absence of oxygen.
 +
*'''[[sheet mulching]]''' - where a nitrogen rich layer is placed under a carbon rich layer across an area of ground, often used with a paper weed barrier layer to convert existing vegetation to a [[mulch garden]]
 +
*'''[[mulching]]''' - where organic matter is placed in layers on the ground surface.
 +
*'''[[brush piles]]''' - coarse material is piled up and breaks down very slowly while providing some habitat in the interim
 +
*'''[[humanure]]''' - methods used to treat human feces to kill pathogens and parasites so it can be used in the garden.
 +
*'''[[worm boxes]]''' - use manure worms to digest food waste and produce worm castings.  
  
====Hot composting====
+
== C/N ratio==
Composting always heats up the soil. Hot composting however means that you make the pile in such a way that it attains higher temperature and thus kill bacteria and weed seeds (which is useful if you want to break down a lot of weeds). Hot compost is more difficult to make but will decompose much quicker. Hot composting releases a lot of carbon which means the end result is higher in nitrogen compared to a cold compost.  To make a hot compost have the Nitrogen to Carbon ratio slightly higher, insulate of a pile if you live in a cold area, and monitor the temperature stirring the pile when it starts to drop.  To kill weed seeds and pathogens a pile should get to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.  This is not hard to accomplish especially in the center of a pile where you will want to place any possibly harmful materials, such as weed seeds or meat.  The optimum temperature for decomposition is between 105 degrees and 130 degrees.  Keeping a compost at a temperature higher than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, will kill off microbes that are necessary for decomposition.  If a pile gets too hot, around 170 degrees, there is danger of it spontaneously combusting.
+
  
====Cold composting====
+
It is important to understand the carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio as this will have a dramatic effect on the success of a composting system. 
Sometime called "lazy person's compost". Tends to be slower to decompose, but is used for convenience or when materials are scarce. These piles have a higher carbon to nitrogen ratioThey are slower and the end result is higher in carbon.
+
 
 +
Sludges, animal wastes and fresh green materials are high in nitrogen.  Straws, browned plants and woody materials are high in carbon.  If using woody materials, chopping will be necessary as the microbes require a high surface area to get to the carbon in the wood, which is often stored in a way that is difficult for them to access.  On the other hand, having larger pieces of material within the compost may assist the process as it will aid air circulation.  It may be necessary to remove these towards the end of the process.
 +
 
 +
Successful composting requires a mix of organic materials as large amounts of high N (nitrogen) material will lead to high losses of N and other undesirable processes.  As a rule of thumb, a target ratio of carbon: nitrogen should ideally be 30:1 or lower.  Materials which are high in N, such as animal manures, human sewage sludge, food wastes etc should therefore be mixed with large amounts of materials which are high in carbon, such as straw, wood, sawdust etc. [[Compostable materials]] is an introduction to different types of materials that can be effectively composted.
 +
 
 +
==Hot composting==
 +
In ideal conditions, the rapid respiration of microbes within the compost will lead to high temperatures and so this is sometimes refered to as "[[Hot composting|hot composting]]". Higher temperatures are highly desirable as it will denature pathogenic microbes (who are usually most active at around body temperature) and seeds of many species of weed.
 +
 
 +
==Cold composting==
 +
Cold composting is composting in sub optimal conditions. Materials may be left in heaps without attention, mixing or protection from rain. Composting may be slow, may not take place at all or the conditions may even encourage undesirable processes to occurCold composting should therefore be avoided and the products may need additional processing or composting to be safely used.
 +
 
 +
==Composting at different scales==
 +
Many different types of composting are conducted in different places around the world and at different scales. These range from bin composting at a household scale all the way to full industrial scale windrow composting.
  
==Types of compost==
 
 
===Pile or bin composting===
 
===Pile or bin composting===
{{Main|In-depth explanation of bin composting}}
 
Some people prefer compost bins while others choose to make a pile. Both are however fairly identical, as even bin composting is done directly unto the soil (so without a non-permeable layer in between). The compost always needs to have direct contact to the soil as worms, ... need to be able to reach the pile.
 
  
With both methods, we need to layer the pile by alternating the previously mentioned "brown" and "green" layers. The ideal way to layer materials is by first loosening the ground on which the pile will be located to allow for drainage.  The first layer should be a stalky material to allow for air flow and drainage, sunflower stalks, corn stalks, small branches or twigs work well for this.  Then add a significant amount of dry vegetation or carbon such as leaves or straw.  After that comes the nitrogen layer, which is green waste or kitchen scraps topped with a thin sheet of soil.  The process is then repeated leaving out the stalky layer.  If there is enough material, it is best to make the whole pile at once.  For really cold climates a pile should be 4x4x4 feet to insulate it, but in a mild climate 3x3x3 feet is sufficient.  A pile will shrink to about a fourth of the size and usually takes 3-6 months to fully break down.  You will know that a pile is done when it is rich in color, falls apart easily in your hand, and you can not discern any of the original contents.
 
  
When you wish to use a bin system, the 3-bin system is often the easiest. In this system, one bin is used for the layering, the others are used when the bin needs to be rotated (turned over). Two bins are used for this to allow storing the humus in once bin, and having one left for when the first bin needs to be rotated. See [http://goodcheergarden.wordpress.com/about-2/3-bin-compost-system-using-pallets/ 3-bin compost system]
+
In fairly small scale composting, bins, piles and heaps are used. Bins may be produced from various different kinds of materials and can help to produce good compost if they assist with the flow of air through the heap. The disadvantage of bins is that the compost can be more difficult to turn and aerate. A heap on the ground can be seen as an easier option, however care may be needed to prevent the material from speading and to ensure it is adequately aerated. [[Home_composting_(Practical_Action_Brief)| This page contains more information about home composting]]  
  
Specialised bins also exist, ie the geobin system -- a sheet of polymer material rolled into a cylinder and stood upright: Cost is in the $20-$40 range commercially.
+
Regarding the types of bin, plastic bins such as the geobin system have been used to produce compost of reasonable quality, but bins made of wood or other locally available materials can be used just as effectively. Sometimes bins have been designed with special equipment to aggitate and aerate the compost, which can also be a good way to ensure that the compost is properly aired without the user having to manhandle the compost.
  
===Boma composting===
+
See [[Compost_bin_manufacture_(Practical_Action_Technical_Brief)|this technical brief]] about manufacturing bins.
This takes place where animals are kept. Making compost from the bedding, manure and urine.
+
  
=== Sheet composting === 
+
This is a nice video by British composting expert Nicky Scott on home composting
To sheet compost you lay uncomposted organic matter on a garden bed and turn it under.  Doing this ties up the land and nitrogen for about 3 months.  It may be good to do in the winter, if you are not planting a cover crop, so that nitrogen in the soil does not leach away.
+
  
Another approach is to lay the organic material on top of the soil and place heavy porous material such as old carpet (organic, or course) over it.  The carpet ensures that water is retained and that weeds or other plants do not have the opportunity to grow while the organic material is composting.  This method allows use of even the toughest material such as freshly cut bamboo stalks to be used as composting material.
+
{{#widget:YouTube|id=cYHHhLi0b3Y}}
  
The added bonus of this method is the cheapness of the main material; old carpets are easily collected for free during any hard waste dump. The use of carpet also allows extra organic material to be added with minimal effort, just pull back the carpet and replace it after the organic material is addedRegular watering of the compost will assist the breakdown of the matter.
+
===Industrial scale composting===
 +
Windrows are large compost heaps which can be hundreds of metres long.  They are usually this shape because specialist turning equipment is used to move along the whole length to turn and mix the compost[[Arcata_Marsh_compost|Arcata Marsh]] is an example of a large industrial scale composting plant.
  
Once the matter has broken down, there is no need to remove the carpet; simply cut holes in it and plant the plants of choice directly into the mulch.  The carpet will continue to provide protection against weeds and will aid water retention.  If the carpet is organic, such as wool on a hessian backing, it will eventually break down and add to the soil, so it does not even need to be removed.
+
===Farm waste composting===
 +
In many farm systems, animal extreta from animal houses is mixed with urine and bedding and stored in bays beneath the buildings, to be excavated and removed at a later date.  The effectiveness of this as a composting system will depend on the animals and the bedding materials used, but farmyard manure can often be used as a valuable soil amendment.  In many areas it makes more sense to remove and store the waste away from the animal houses due to problems with dust and odors.  Care should be taken when removing animal wastes from underground storage pits as there may be hazards from airborne pathogens and the material may not be adequately sanitized.
  
==Troubleshooting a pile==
+
==Troubleshooting==
* Make sure you increase the amount of air regularly by turning it over.
+
* Regularly turning compost to encourage the movement of air is always a good idea
 
* Increase surface area of materials by chopping them up.
 
* Increase surface area of materials by chopping them up.
 
* If your compost is smelly it is not getting enough oxygen (going anaerobic).
 
* If your compost is smelly it is not getting enough oxygen (going anaerobic).
* If space is an issue (ie if you are living in a house or apartment with not much of a yard), you can use [[vermiculture]] (i.e. using a worm bin).  
+
* If space is an issue (ie if you are living in a house or apartment with not much of a yard), you could try [[vermiculture]] (i.e. using a worm bin).  
* Animals (ie bears, raccoons, rats, and other animals) may become a problem if there is something in a compost pile they would like to eat. Access to compost must be restricted (ie by using a high, fully closed bin); avoiding the scraps that attract them too can help, especially meat, fish, ... scraps. As you still need to discard these somehow, you can opt to compost them anaerobically (using a biogas digester).
+
* Animals (ie bears, raccoons, rats, and other animals) may become a problem if there is something in a compost pile they would like to eat. Access to compost must be restricted (ie by using a high, fully closed bin); avoiding the scraps that attract them too can help, especially meat, fish.
 +
 
 +
This is another video about troubleshooting home compost
 +
 
 +
{{#widget:YouTube|id=nBe_Pqq_fTs}}
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
* [[Composting human feces]]
 
* [[Composting human feces]]
* [[Biogas|Dry anaerobic digestion: a bit similar to composting]]
+
* [[Biogas]]
 
* [[Vermicomposting]]
 
* [[Vermicomposting]]
 +
* [[Home composting (Practical Action Brief)]]
 +
* [[Compost bin manufacture (Practical Action Technical_Brief)]]
 +
* [[High fiber composting]]
 +
* [[chickens]] - can be used to prepare materials for composting
 +
* [[low nitrogen compost]] piles - can be used to grow vining tubers like [[potatoes]]
  
 
== External links ==
 
== External links ==
 
* [http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/160-podcast-015-compost-vegan-permaculture-native-plants/ Composting, vegan permaculture, native plants] - a podcast by Paul Wheaton and Helen Atthowe (very informative on composting)
 
* [http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/160-podcast-015-compost-vegan-permaculture-native-plants/ Composting, vegan permaculture, native plants] - a podcast by Paul Wheaton and Helen Atthowe (very informative on composting)
 
* [http://www.territorialseed.com/product/7190/20 Territorial Seed]
 
* [http://www.territorialseed.com/product/7190/20 Territorial Seed]
* [http://www.groworganic.com/item_GCO350_Geobin_Home__Garden_Compost_Bin.html Grow Organic]
 
  
 +
{{PermacultureInfo|Composting}}
 +
 +
[[Category:Composting| ]]
 
[[Category:Agriculture]]
 
[[Category:Agriculture]]
 +
[[Category:Sustainable agriculture]]
 
[[Category:Waste management]]
 
[[Category:Waste management]]
 
[[Category:Construction and materials]]
 
[[Category:Construction and materials]]
 
[[Category: Green living]]
 
[[Category: Green living]]
 +
[[Category:Videos]]
 +
[[Category:Construction and materials videos]]
 +
[[Category:Food and agriculture videos]]
 +
[[Category:Green living videos]]

Latest revision as of 07:16, 17 October 2015


Default.png    See also the Composting category.
for subtopics, how-tos, project pages, designs, organization pages and more.


Mergefrom.gif
It has been suggested that Compost (PermaWiki) be merged into this page or section. (Discuss).


Composting is the partial decomposition of organic materials by aerobic or anaerobic processes. Composting techniques create moist environments that stimulates to growth of decomposer microbes. This has the effect of "stabilising" the nutrients, sanitising pathogens in the organic material and producing a useful soil amendment. There are a wide range of approaches to composting that require different infrastructure, inputs, and produce different outputs.

Inputs[edit]

  • organic matter - the larger the pieces the slower the decomposition
  • nitrogen - a moderate carbon to nitrogen ratio of around 25:1 is required for hot aerobic composting.
  • water - rapid bacterial decomposition requires a moist but not soggy environment.

Outputs[edit]

  • Cool compost piles produce insects and worms.
  • Well built aerobic composting produces heat.
  • At the end of composting you have relatively stable humus.

Purpose of composting[edit]

There are two main purposes of composting:

  • it is a waste management technique as it reduces the volume of waste materials. In some circumstances it may also have a beneficial sanitising effect on dangerous microbial pathogens in the waste
  • creation of compost from the plant matter, which is a very useful compound in farming. It is useful for this as
    • it improves soil structure, improves aeration, water-retention, erosion problems, and makes the soil easier to work.
    • when used as mulch, it slows the growth of competitive weeds between rows and around plants. See mulching for further details.
    • it adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil. As a sponge holds water, so organic matter helps to retain nutrient ions in the soil that the plants need to grow. These nutrients may not have originated in the compost - so soils with higher levels of organic matter can be said to be more fertile than those with much lower levels.

Composting process[edit]

Compost needs:

  • Oxygen and water: whilst composts can be too dry, it is more of a problem when it is too wet, as the water displaces oxygen within the matrix, which may prevent efficient aerobic microbial activity.
  • Easy sources of nitrogen and carbon: limitations in either may lead to reduced growth of beneficial microbes
  • Optimal temperatures: 'friendly' compost microbes multiply at higher temperatures.

When conditions are not optimal, the process may be slowed, may not happen at all, or may not destroy harmful microbial pathogens. Care should be taken as it is possible to have areas of poor conditions within a compost heap that is performing well. High or low levels of moisture may also have a impact on the length of time it takes for the organic material to stabilise into compost. Compost is dark in colour (exact colour will depend on the materials used), consistent (in the sense that it is hard to identify what was used to make it), is fairly fine and does not contain many contaminants (such as pieces of plastic, large pieces of wood and pieces of uncomposted wastes). In most places with good management, stable compost can be produced within 8 weeks. However systems which are not ideal (sometimes known as cold composting may take a lot longer. Composting toilets should be left to mature for at least a year after use and may still not be fully stable.

Composting is the cumulative digestion effect of many different kinds of organism and may involve several different steps and various types of organism, which may include worms, microbes and other biota.

Composting Approaches[edit]

  • aerobic composting - the careful assembly of materials and moisture into a pile that rapidly heats up either in a windrow or a bin, to produce a high quality compost that can be used in gardens, particularly for clean cultivation.
  • anaeroboic composting - Also known as the Indore method, where materials are kept moist in a sealed container in the absence of oxygen.
  • sheet mulching - where a nitrogen rich layer is placed under a carbon rich layer across an area of ground, often used with a paper weed barrier layer to convert existing vegetation to a mulch garden
  • mulching - where organic matter is placed in layers on the ground surface.
  • brush piles - coarse material is piled up and breaks down very slowly while providing some habitat in the interim
  • humanure - methods used to treat human feces to kill pathogens and parasites so it can be used in the garden.
  • worm boxes - use manure worms to digest food waste and produce worm castings.

C/N ratio[edit]

It is important to understand the carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio as this will have a dramatic effect on the success of a composting system.

Sludges, animal wastes and fresh green materials are high in nitrogen. Straws, browned plants and woody materials are high in carbon. If using woody materials, chopping will be necessary as the microbes require a high surface area to get to the carbon in the wood, which is often stored in a way that is difficult for them to access. On the other hand, having larger pieces of material within the compost may assist the process as it will aid air circulation. It may be necessary to remove these towards the end of the process.

Successful composting requires a mix of organic materials as large amounts of high N (nitrogen) material will lead to high losses of N and other undesirable processes. As a rule of thumb, a target ratio of carbon: nitrogen should ideally be 30:1 or lower. Materials which are high in N, such as animal manures, human sewage sludge, food wastes etc should therefore be mixed with large amounts of materials which are high in carbon, such as straw, wood, sawdust etc. Compostable materials is an introduction to different types of materials that can be effectively composted.

Hot composting[edit]

In ideal conditions, the rapid respiration of microbes within the compost will lead to high temperatures and so this is sometimes refered to as "hot composting". Higher temperatures are highly desirable as it will denature pathogenic microbes (who are usually most active at around body temperature) and seeds of many species of weed.

Cold composting[edit]

Cold composting is composting in sub optimal conditions. Materials may be left in heaps without attention, mixing or protection from rain. Composting may be slow, may not take place at all or the conditions may even encourage undesirable processes to occur. Cold composting should therefore be avoided and the products may need additional processing or composting to be safely used.

Composting at different scales[edit]

Many different types of composting are conducted in different places around the world and at different scales. These range from bin composting at a household scale all the way to full industrial scale windrow composting.

Pile or bin composting[edit]

In fairly small scale composting, bins, piles and heaps are used. Bins may be produced from various different kinds of materials and can help to produce good compost if they assist with the flow of air through the heap. The disadvantage of bins is that the compost can be more difficult to turn and aerate. A heap on the ground can be seen as an easier option, however care may be needed to prevent the material from speading and to ensure it is adequately aerated. This page contains more information about home composting

Regarding the types of bin, plastic bins such as the geobin system have been used to produce compost of reasonable quality, but bins made of wood or other locally available materials can be used just as effectively. Sometimes bins have been designed with special equipment to aggitate and aerate the compost, which can also be a good way to ensure that the compost is properly aired without the user having to manhandle the compost.

See this technical brief about manufacturing bins.

This is a nice video by British composting expert Nicky Scott on home composting

Industrial scale composting[edit]

Windrows are large compost heaps which can be hundreds of metres long. They are usually this shape because specialist turning equipment is used to move along the whole length to turn and mix the compost. Arcata Marsh is an example of a large industrial scale composting plant.

Farm waste composting[edit]

In many farm systems, animal extreta from animal houses is mixed with urine and bedding and stored in bays beneath the buildings, to be excavated and removed at a later date. The effectiveness of this as a composting system will depend on the animals and the bedding materials used, but farmyard manure can often be used as a valuable soil amendment. In many areas it makes more sense to remove and store the waste away from the animal houses due to problems with dust and odors. Care should be taken when removing animal wastes from underground storage pits as there may be hazards from airborne pathogens and the material may not be adequately sanitized.

Troubleshooting[edit]

  • Regularly turning compost to encourage the movement of air is always a good idea
  • Increase surface area of materials by chopping them up.
  • If your compost is smelly it is not getting enough oxygen (going anaerobic).
  • If space is an issue (ie if you are living in a house or apartment with not much of a yard), you could try vermiculture (i.e. using a worm bin).
  • Animals (ie bears, raccoons, rats, and other animals) may become a problem if there is something in a compost pile they would like to eat. Access to compost must be restricted (ie by using a high, fully closed bin); avoiding the scraps that attract them too can help, especially meat, fish.

This is another video about troubleshooting home compost

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Permaculture.info
This page or section includes content from the Permaculture.info wiki, which is being merged into Appropedia. The original article was at Composting. As with Appropedia, Permaculture.info licensed its content under the CC-BY-SA.