Compost Composter Bin, Pile, meaning, definition
What is Compost ? Composting just happens ! Look at the Science behind our eyes. Organic material breaks down over time. Making compost is a controlled or managed version of the natural process. By concentrating the activity in one place and balancing food, air and water - composting happens faster.
Compost FAQ Questions and Answers about Compost
VermiCompost - VermiCompost Means Composting with Worms
How to Compost - information about composting fundamentals for those interested in an introduction to how composting should be done. In addition, a set of composting questions and answers provide information about how to tell if compost is finished, how to use compost, and how compost benefits the soil.
What is Compost? Compost is the decomposed remnants of organic materials (those with plant and animal origins). Compost is used in gardening and agriculture as a soil amendment and commercially by the landscaping and container nursery industries. It also used for erosion control, land/stream reclamation, constructed wetlands, and landfill cover.
Compost and Composition - Composition A handful of compost The Compost is a concentrate and should be blended with soil and/or other ingredients, typically no more than 30 percent of the total mix. In landscaping and gardening, compost can also be used full strength as a mulch. However, like soil, it should not be heaped up around the woody stems of trees and shrubs, as this encourages insect damage. Compost improves soil structure, increases the amount of organic matter, and provides nutrients. Biodegradation is the means by which organic matter is recycled in its environment. Compost is also used as a seed starting medium generally mixed with a small portion of sand for improved drainage.
Humus and Compost - Compost is a common name for humus, which is the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The decomposition is performed primarily by microbes, although larger creatures such as ants and nematode and oligochaete worms (see vermicomposting) contribute to the process. This occurs naturally in all but the most hostile environments, such as within landfills or in extremely arid deserts, which prevent the microbes and other decomposers from thriving. Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic matter. Rather than allowing nature to take its slow course, a composter provides an optimal environment in which decomposers can thrive. To encourage the most active microbes, a compost pile needs the correct mix of the following ingredients: Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen (air), Water
Decomposition happens even in the absence of some of these ingredients, but not nearly as quickly and not nearly as pleasantly. (For example, vegetables in a plastic bag will still decompose, but the absence of air encourages the growth of anaerobic microbes that produce disagreeable odors.)
Decomposers - All guidelines for building compost piles have the goal of creating the proper environment for a decomposing ecosystem. The most effective decomposers are bacteria and other microorganisms. Also important are fungi, protozoa, and actinobacteria (or actinomycetes, bacteria that are often seen as white filaments in decomposing organic matter). At a macroscopic level, earthworms, ants, snails, slugs, millipedes, sow bugs, springtails, and others work on consuming and breaking down the organic matter. Centipedes and other predators feed upon these decomposers.
Compost ingredients - Given enough time, all biodegradable material will compost. A compost bin full of autumn oak leaves However, not all compost feedstocks are appropriate for backyard composting. Most backyard systems will not reach high enough temperatures to kill pathogens and deter vermin, so animal manures, pet droppings, meat scraps, and dairy products are best left to operators of high-rate, thermophylic systems. Using more sophisticated systems under competent management, composting is also an efficient, cost-competitive, environmentally sound technology to recycle not only animal manures and bedding, but also the by-products of food production and processing, restaurant grease and cooking oils, and residuals from the treatment of wastewater and drinking water.

Composting will also breakdown petroleum hydrocarbons and some toxic compounds for recycling and beneficial reuse. The use of composting for such purposes is most commonly referred to as a form of bioremediation.

The goal in a compost pile is to provide a healthy environment and nutrition for the rapid decomposers, the bacteria. The most rapid composting occurs with the ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio of between 25 and 30 to 1 by dry chemical weight. In other words, the ingredients placed in the pile should contain 25 to 30 times as much carbon as nitrogen. For example, grass clippings average about 19-to-1 and dry autumn leaves average about 55-to-1. Mixing equal parts by volume approximates the ideal range. Commercial-grade composting operations pay strict attention to this ratio. For backyard composters, however, the charts of carbon and nitrogen ratios in various ingredients and the calculations required to get the ideal mixture can be intimidating, so many rules of thumb exist to guide composters in approximating this mixture.

High-carbon sources provide the cellulose needed by the composting bacteria for conversion to sugars and heat, while high-nitrogen sources provide the most concentrated protein, which allow the compost bacteria to thrive.
Some ingredients with higher carbon content:
  • Dry, straw-type material, such as cereal straws
  • Autumn leaves
  • Sawdust and wood chips
  • Some paper and cardboard (such as corrugated cardboard or newsprint with soy-based inks)
  • Some ingredients with higher nitrogen content:
  • Green plant material (fresh or wilted) such as crop residues, hay, grass clippings, weeds
  • Animal manures
  • Fruit and vegetable trimmings
  • Seaweeds
  • Used Coffee grounds
  • Poultry manure provides lots of nitrogen but little carbon. Horse manure provides both. Sheep and cattle manure don't drive the compost heap to as high a temperature as poultry or horse manure, so the heap takes longer to produce the finished product.

  • Mixing the materials as they are added increases the rate of decomposition, but it can be easier to place the materials in alternating layers, approximately 15 cm (6 in) thick, to help estimate the quantities. Keeping carbon and nitrogen sources separated in the pile can slow down the process, but decomposition will occur in any event.

    Greasy food waste and wastes from meat, dairy products, and eggs should not be used in compost because they tend to attract unwanted vermin. However, Eggshells are a good source of nutrients for the compost pile and the soil although they typically take more than one year to decompose.
    Composting techniques : There are two primary methods of aerobic composting:
  • Active (or hot ) composting, which allows the most effective decomposing bacteria to thrive, kills most pathogens and seeds, and rapidly produces usable compost
  • Passive (or cold ) composting, which lets nature take its course in a more leisurely manner and leaves many pathogens and seeds dormant in the pile
  • Most commercial and industrial composting operations use active composting techniques. This ensures a higher quality product and produces results in the shortest time (see compost windrow turner). The greatest control, and therefore the highest quality, is generally achieved by composting inside an enclosed vessel which is monitored and adjusted continuously for optimal temperature, air flow, moisture, and other parameters. In-vessel (en-vessel).

    Home composters use a range of techniques varying from extremely passive composting (throw everything in a pile in a corner and leave it alone for a year or two) to extremely active (monitoring the temperature, turning the pile regularly, and adjusting the ingredients over time) and combinations of both.

    Some composters use mineral powders to absorb smells, although a well-maintained pile seldom has bad odors.
    Microbes and heating the pile - - - An active compost heap, steaming on a cold winter morning. The heap is kept warm by the exothermic action of the bacteria as they decompose the organic matter.
    An effective compost pile is kept about as damp as a well wrung-out sponge. This provides the moisture that all life needs to survive. Bacteria and other microorganisms fall into a variety of groups in terms of what their ideal temperature is and how much heat they generate as they do their work. Mesophilic bacteria enjoy midrange temperatures, from about 20 to 40 °C (70 to 110 °F). As they decompose the organic matter, they generate heat, and the inner part of a compost pile heats up the most.

    The heap should be about 1 m (3 ft) wide, 1 m (3 ft) tall, and as long as is practicable. This provides a suitable insulating mass to allow a good heat build-up as the material decays. The ideal temperature is around 60 °C (140 °F), which kills most pathogens and weed seeds and while providing a suitable environment for thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria, which are the fastest acting decomposers. The centre of the heap can get too warm, possibly hot enough to burn a bare hand.
    If this fails to happen, common reasons include the following:
  • The heap is too wet, thus excluding the oxygen required by the compost bacteria
  • The heap is too dry, so that the bacteria do not have the moisture needed to survive and reproduce
  • There is insufficient protein (nitrogen-rich material)
  • The solution is to add material, if necessary, and/or to turn the pile to aerate it.

  • Depending on how quickly the compost is required, the heap can be turned one or more times to bring the outer layers to the inside of the heap and vice versa, as well as to aerate the mixture. Adding water at this time helps keep the pile as damp. One guideline is to turn the pile when the high temperature has begun to drop, indicating that the food source for the fastest-acting bacteria (in the center of the pile) has been largely consumed. When the temperature stops rising after the pile has been turned, there is no further advantage in turning the pile. When all the material has turned into dark brown or nearly black crumbly matter, it is ready to use.
    Other ingredients - Some users like to put special materials and activators into their compost. A light dusting of agricultural lime (not on the animal manure layers) can curb excessive acidity that can slow down the fermentation. Seaweed meal can provide a ready source of trace elements. Finely pulverized rock (Rock dust - Rock flour) can also provide needed minerals, as opposed to clay (which is trace mineral-poor and/or leached rock dust).

    The animal manure part of compost source materials can be collected by composting toilets (in this case, human feces). However, such compost is usually not used as a fertilizer for plants that are directly edible (e.g., salad crops). Most composting toilets do not allow for the thermophilic activity needed to completely kill off the pathogens and bacteria.
    However, there is research that shows that if these high temperatures are reached, there is no danger of contamination, and the resulting compost can be safely used on food crops .
    Composting systems
    Aerated Static Pile
    Composting toilet
    Container composting
    German mound
    High fibre composting
    In-vessel (also en-vessel)
    Leaf mold
    Sheet composting
    Spent mushroom compost
    Windrow composting
    Worm compost
    Soil amendments
    Soil conditioner
    List of environment topics
    Instructional Videos on Composting: Step-by-step guide on how to make your own compost, how to turn and mix your compost, and how to make a compost container yourself
    Start Composting - Beginner's Composting
    The Compost Bin - Learn about Composting
    Compost Composting in Quebec
    Make A Large Compost Bin Out Of Waste Wood
    Lesson Plans and Composting
    Projects for Schools
    Home Composting
    Master Composter
    Cornell Composting--Science and Engineering
    How to Begin a Compost Pile
    The Humanure Handbook
    The Compost Froup composting community and forums
    Midwest Bio-Systems
    Composting in your garden
    Klickitat County, Washington. Online calculator to help composters with their C:N ratios.
    Composting councils
    Composting councils
    Canada Composting Council
    Carolinas Composting Council
    European Compost Network
    Georgia Composting Association GA Compost Georgia
    Ireland, Composting Association Compost in Ireland
    Italian Composting Association Compost in Italy
    Michigan Composting Council Michigan Recycles
    Mid-Atlantic Composting Association
    (NY) Organics Recycling and Composting Council
    Oregon, Composting Council of
    Pennsylvania Composting Association
    (UK) Community Composting Network
    (UK) Composting Association
    US Composting Council
    Vermont,Composting Association of
    Washington Organic Recycling Council
    Compost Bio 2018