What is Compost?
Composting is the biological method of stabilizing organic residues which become a humus-like material; this process occurs naturally when dead plant parts decay on the forest floor. The principles of composting can successfully be applied to food/organic wastes stabilization, weight and volume reduction, and putrescibility (anaerobic splitting of proteins by bacteria and fungi with the formation of foul-smelling incompletely oxidized products) and pathogen control. Composting yields a product of soil conditioning and nutrient value, essentially odorless and pathogen free, called Compost. Composting is also an attractive alternative for organic waste treatment in Municipal Solid Waste plants because it is a self-heating process that does not depend on an external heat source. Composting may be aerobic or anaerobic. Aerobic composting is decomposition in the presence of air ; anaerobic composting is decomposition in the absence of air. Several benefits of keeping the composting operation aerobic instead of anaerobic are: 1. Aerobic composting is faster, causing accelerated decomposition of the material. 2. Aerobic composting does not produce objectionable odors. 3. Aerobic composting is characterized by a higher rise in temperature, which is necessary for pathogen destruction. 4. Aerobic composting is an extraordinarily resilient process due to the nature of its ecosystem: it can take poor design and mismanagement better than any other waste treatment process.
Key Benefits of Compost:
- Contains organic NPK and needed trace
- Essential for maintaining a thriving earthworm population.
- Contains plant nutrients and billions of soil microorganisms in every ounce, which decompose and convert organic matter such as leaves, withered plants and roots, animal droppings and particles of rock into plant food.
- Soil Enrichment:
• Adds organic bulk and humus to regenerate poor soils.
• Helps suppress plant diseases and pests.
• Increases soil nutrient content and water retention in both clay and sandy soils.
• Restores soil structure after reduction of natural soil microbes by chemical fertilizer.
• Reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizer.
• Combats specific soil, water, and air problems.
- Pollution Remediation:
• Absorbs odors and degrades volatile organic compounds.
• Binds heavy metals and prevents them from migrating to water resources or being absorbed by plants.
• Degrades, and in some cases, completely eliminates wood preservatives, petroleum products, pesticides, and both chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.
- Pollution Prevention:
• Avoids methane production and leachate formation in landfills by diverting organics for composting.
• Prevents pollutants in stormwater runoff from reaching water resources.
• Prevents erosion and silting on embankments parallel to creeks, lakes, and rivers.
• Prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields, and golf courses.
- Economic Benefits:
• Results in significant cost savings by reducing the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
• Produces a marketable commodity and a low-cost alternative to standard landfill cover and artificial soil amendments.
• Extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from the waste stream.
• Provides a less costly alternative to conventional bioremediation techniques.