Composting

If you are interested in gardening or planting plants, you need to know about composting and its benefits. Composting is the process of transforming organic material from agricultural and gardening waste, which is treated to speed up its decomposition so that it can be used as fertilizer or natural fertilizer.

This alternative represents a simple method of making a homemade fertilizer. It does not require any mechanism, motor or maintenance costs. It simply uses the waste originated daily in the homes, which contains 40 percent organic matter, and can be recycled to be returned to the earth as humus.

This procedure helps to reduce the amount of waste that is taken to landfills or treatment plants, and at the same time reduces the handling of chemical fertilizers.

It should be noted that home composting emits less greenhouse gas than industrial composting, even when treating the same amount of kitchen and garden waste. For every 100 kg of organic waste, 30 kg of compost is obtained.


CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPOSTING

The characteristics of composting vary according to the organic material, the process used and the different stages of manufacture. Some frequent characteristics are identified as: brown color, decrease of the carbon-nitrogen ratio, continuous change of nature due to the effect of microorganisms, as well as high content of cation exchange and higher capacity of hydration.

Until it reaches stability, composting is a biological, aerobic and controlled process, which transforms organic matter into compost, with humic substances. The resulting mixture is used in the soil to optimize its particularities, without causing damage to the environment.


THE COMPOSTING PROCESS

The composting process comprises four important stages: Pre-processing, biodegradation, maturation and final conditioning.

Pre-processing consists of removing impurities from the waste and grinding up the greens. It is a pre-classification to divert plastics, glass and metals.

The biodegradation conceives the aeration by means of batteries or forced systems. In this phase the temperature is monitored, a conditioning element in the growth of some microorganisms essential for degradation. It ends when the material is consolidated.

Maturation is the period that takes the most time. It increases the amount of nutrients present in the compost, which are used by the roots. The material must be well degraded, that is, it must not be possible to identify it.

To conclude, the conditioning is carried out, a sifting process that allows the last impurities to be separated in order to achieve a uniform product.

WHAT COMPOSTING TECHNIQUES ARE USED?

To achieve the biodegradation of the material, techniques such as the following are applied:


Camellon system: This system arranges the organic matter in open air ridges, between 1.5 to 1.8 meters high and 2.5 to 4.5 meters long. These ridges are periodically turned over to keep the piles oxygenated, collect humidity and control the temperature. The degradation takes 60 to 90 days, and the maturity between 45 and 60 days.

Aerated static piles: With this method, the oxygenation obtained by forced air varies, which is distributed among the piles by means of perforated pipes and an air injector. This reduces the degradation time to 30 days, but the maturation remains at 45 to 60 days.

System with biodigesters: This greatly reduces the period of biodegradation, from 60 or 90 days to 48 or 72 hours. The maturation period remains the same. It has a rotating metallic tubular biodigester, which grinds the residues by friction. The degradation process is accelerated by the high temperatures, which eliminates pathogens, and the imposed air injection.

There are other simple composting options, such as deposits of small steel or plastic containers, or large cages and concrete constructions, which allow a greater revision of the system conditions


WHAT WASTE IS USED IN COMPOSTING?

For home composting, food scraps, eggshells, vegetables, coffee, tea, broken paper and pruning and gardening waste are used. Disposable diapers, tissues containing disease pathogens, and human, dog or cat waste are not used. Nor can you choose brightly colored or colored printed papers, hard objects, stones, bits of glass, metal or plastic, or detergents, garden or household chemicals, oils and dairy products.

To do this, the waste is accumulated in pylons of approximately one meter by one meter. The leaves are not compacted, because it restricts fermentation. They must be in the shade, protected from the wind, since the high temperatures help the organic matter to disintegrate.

It is pertinent to water when piling up the waste, so that the whole pile is moistened homogeneously. A hole should be left at the top to allow rainwater to pass through. Every month the pile is turned over and watered. It will take months for the compost to be ready for use. You will know when it takes on an earthy brown color, and the smell is neutral, pleasant and mild.

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