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What is a Compost ? What are its types and uses? – Part 2




Compost is an organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Overview

• Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming.
• The process of composting simply requires making a heap of wetted organic matter.
• They include leaves, “green” food waste.
• The materials are to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months.
• Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process.
• They need measured inputs of water, air and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials.
• The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration.
• It needs regularly turning of the mixture.
• Worms and fungi further break up the material.
• Aerobic bacteria manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium.
• The ammonium is further converted by bacteria into plant-nourishing nitrites and nitrates which is done through the process of nitrification.
• Compost can be rich in nutrients.

1. Compost tea
• Compost tea is a liquid extract or a dissolved solution but not simply a suspension of compost.
• It is made by steeping compost in water for 3–7 days.
• It was discovered in Germany and became a practice to suppress foliar fungal diseases by nature of the bacterial competition, suppression, antibiosis on the leaf surface (phyllosphere).
• Other salts present in the tea solution are sodium, chlorides and sulfates.
• The extract is applied as a spray to non-edible plant parts such as seedlings, or as a soil-drench (root dip).

2. Hugelkultur
• The practice of making raised garden beds filled with rotting wood.
• It is in effect creating a nurse log, however, covered with dirt.
• Benefits of hugelkultur garden beds include water retention and warming of soil.
• Buried wood becomes like a sponge as it decomposes, able to capture water and store it for later
“Humanure”.
• “Humanure” is a portmanteau neologism designating human excrement (feces and urine) that is recycled via composting for agricultural or other purposes.
• Humanure is not sewage that has been processed by waste-treatment facilities.
• It is the combination of feces and urine with paper and additional carbon material (such as sawdust).
• A humanure system, such as a compost toilet, does not require water or electricity.
• A compost toilet collects human excrement which is then added to a hot compost heap together with sawdust and straw or other carbon rich materials.
• Here, pathogens are destroyed.
• Human fecal matter and urine have high percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, carbon, and calcium.

3. Vermicompost
• Vermicompost is the product of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste.
• Vermicast, also known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by species of earthworm.
• The earthworm species (or composting worms) most often used are red wigglers (Eisenia fetida or Eisenia andrei), though European nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis or Dendrobaena Veneta) could also be used.

4. Others
• Alternative to land-filling
• Industrial systems

Uses of Compost

• Additive to soil
• Other matrices such as coir and peat
• As a tilth improver
• Supplier humus and nutrients
• It provides a rich growing medium
• It provides a porous, absorbent material that holds moisture and soluble minerals
• Provides the support and nutrients in which plants can flourish
It is primarily mixed with:
– Soil
– Sand
– Grit
– Bark chips
– Vermiculite
– Perlite
– Clay granules
• This is to produce loam.
• Destroying pathogens, seeds, or unwanted plants.
• Composting can destroy pathogens or unwanted seeds.
• Unwanted living plants (or weeds) can be discouraged by covering with mulch/compost.
The “microbial pesticides” in compost may include:
• Thermophiles
• Mesophiles
• Black soldier fly larvae
• Redworms





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