Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter. Composting can make low-cost fertilizers for gardens, lawns, and farms. Restaurants, homes, farms, offices, schools, and other business establishments generate compostable materials. For instance, grass clippings, food scraps, leaves, animal manure, and coffee grounds can all be composted.
In this article we will discuss the various types of composting methods. First, let us have a look on five significant areas have to be “controlled” during composting. These are:
- Feedstock and Nutrient Balance
Composting, also known as controlled decomposition, is a process that requires an equilibrium between “green” organic materials and “brown” organic materials. “Green” organic material includes grass clippings, food scraps, and manure containing significant nitrogen quantities. “Brown” organic materials include dry leaves, wood chips, and branches with substantial carbon quantities but not much nitrogen. Finding the ideal mix of nutrients requires patience and experimentation. It’s part of the art as well as the science behind composting.
- Moisture Content
The microorganisms that live in a compost pile require enough water to thrive. Water is the primary ingredient that assists in transporting materials in the compost pile and allows the nutrients found in organic matter to be available to microbes. Organic materials contain water in different amounts, but it also could be present as rain or even intentional watering.
- Oxygen Flow
Turning the pile over, putting the stack on a set of pipes, or adding bulking agents like newspaper and wood chips can aid in aerating the pile. Aerating the pile helps decomposition to happen more quickly than in anaerobic conditions. It is essential not to allow too much oxygen, which could cause drying out of the pile, which can hinder the process of composting.
- Particle Size
Grinding, chipping, or shredding material increases the number of surface area microorganisms can consume. Smaller particles also result in more homogeneous compost and improve the insulation of the pile to ensure optimal temperature. When this particle size is too small, they could block the air from moving freely throughout the heap.
Microorganisms require a specific temperature range to perform optimally. Certain temperatures facilitate rapid composting and eliminate the seeds of weeds and pathogens. Microbiological activity can increase temperatures in the heap’s core up to a minimum of 140° F. If temperatures do not rise, the chances of aerobic conditions (i.e., decay) take place. The control of the four previous factors can help achieve the desired temperature.
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Types of Composting
The below-mentioned types of composting methods are great for small indoor spaces. Keep reading!
In aerobic composting, the introduction of air can aid in the process of breaking down materials rapidly. The compost must be turned regularly. Incorporate scraps before turning the handle, or turn the composter around to ensure aeration. You will likely need to add lots of green matter that has plenty of nitrogen, like grass clippings. When the bacteria break down the high-nitrogen-content scraps, the compost temperature increases. This accelerates the process.
In addition, it may be necessary for moisture to be added using watering containers or hoses. The odors from aerobic composting are unpleasant If you don’t keep it moist and don’t remember to change it regularly. Additionally, it is essential to leave plenty of air space within the composter.
Anaerobic composting requires almost no effort in any way. You need to dump your scraps into composters or compost piles and then forget about it for an entire year or more. However, keep your nose shut! Anaerobic composting is a stink to heaven.
In the absence of oxygen, harmful bacteria will be able to take over. This is the case in the landfill and is not good for your health. Landfills emit tons of methane (a greenhouse gas) that could explode!
Vermicomposting employs worms, oxygen, and water to reduce organic material and produce very little odor efficiently. Worms are the ones who do most of the lifting, and bacteria can also aid. Worms with red color are the best for this kind of composting, and worms are a part of the household and can work for you.
Composting worms enjoy eating fruits and vegetables that are not acidic in your garden and kitchen. They are fond of grains like pasta, oatmeal, rice, and bread. Make sure you don’t include oily foods and dairy products. Aged manure can be used from herbivores like rabbits, horses, and cows. It is crucial to ensure that the manure has been aged for a couple of days or more. A handful of clean eggshells, crushed and cleaned, add grit to the bin and can help to balance the bin’s pH. Leaves and grass clippings that fall even in smaller quantities are fantastic.
Benefits of Vermicomposting
Vermicomposting is preferred over the other methods of composting due to following reasons:
- It is easy to get the fertilizer to the soil, mainly using a composter based on a tray.
- There is no requirement for you to “turn” frequently.
- There is very little smell.
- There is very little, if at all, dangerous anaerobic bacteria and methane.
- It can be done inside or out in the outdoors.
- If you enjoy fishing, you’ll have an inexhaustible supply of bait.
Aerated Windrow Composting
The evaporation or turning of windrows is suitable for large quantities like that produced by entire communities and collected by local governments, as well as ample food processing companies that process food in high volumes (e.g., cafeterias, restaurants, packaging plants). It produces large quantities of compost that may require assistance in marketing the final product. Local governments could decide to provide the compost to the residents at a minimum cost or free.
This kind of composting involves the process of forming organic waste into rows of lengthy piles, also known as “windrows,” and aerating them regularly by mechanically or manually moving the stacks. The ideal height for a pile is between 4 and 8 feet, with a 14-16 feet width. The size of the pile is enough to provide enough heat to maintain temperatures. It is also tiny enough to permit airflow to the windrow’s center.
The large quantities of different debris, including yard trimmings, fluids, grease, as well as animal waste (such as chicken, fish, and poultry wastes), could be composted using this method.
Windrow composting typically requires large parcels of land, durable equipment, an endless amount of workers to manage and maintain the facility, and a willingness to play around with different material combinations and turn frequencies. In a hot, dry climate, windrows can be covered or placed beneath a shelter to keep the water from evaporating.
In times of rain, the forms of the pile may be changed so that water drains across from the front of the stack rather than being absorbed by the pile. Windrow composting is a viable option in cold climates. The outside of the compost pile could freeze, but inside its center, the windrow could reach 140° F.
Leachate is a liquid that is released by the composting process. It can be a source of contamination for local groundwater as well as surface water supplies. It must be gathered and cleaned.
Windrow composting may be considered a massive operation that is subject to enforcement by regulatory agencies. Compost must be tested in the laboratory for bacterial as well as heavy metals. Moreover, odors should also be managed. The public must be aware of the procedure and be provided with an avenue to respond to any complaints regarding animal odors or other unpleasant smells.
Aerated Static Pile Composting
Aerated static pile composting creates compost very fast, within 3 to 6 months. It’s ideal for a homogeneous mix of organic waste. It can also be used for larger garden trimmings producers and recyclable municipal waste (e.g., food scraps, food waste, and paper products) like landscapers, local governments, or farms. This technique, however, is not ideal for composting animal byproducts or the grease that comes from industries processing food.
In the process of composting, aerated static organic wastes are mixed into an enormous pile. In order to aerate the heap, layers of substances for bulking (e.g., newspapers, wood chips) are added so that air can flow from the top to the bottom of the heap. The piles can also be placed on top of a network of pipes that deliver air to or draw air from the pile. A timer or temperature sensor can control air blowers.
In a hot, dry environment, it could be essential for the pile to be covered or put under shelters to stop the water from evaporating. In cold temperatures during the winter season, the center of the heap will keep it warm. Aeration can be more difficult due to passive airflow being employed instead of active turning. The placement of the aerated static piles in a room with adequate ventilation is often an alternative.
Because there isn’t any physical rotation, this process requires careful supervision to ensure that the outer of the pile is heated to the same degree as the core. Applying a thick layer of compost that has been finished could help eliminate any smells. If the air-blaster can draw air from the compost, filtering the air with a biofilter created of compost that has been finished will help eliminate any odors.
A controlled supply of air permits the building of large piles that require less land than the windrow method. This approach could need substantial expense and technical support to install, purchase and maintain equipment like pipes, blowers, sensors, and fans.
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The in-vessel composting process uses huge quantities of waste, but it does not take up the same amount of space as the windrow method. It can take in virtually all kinds of organic material (e.g., animal manure, meat biosolids, food scraps). It involves feeding the organic material into a silo, drum, trench lined with concrete, and similar devices. This permits good control of the conditions in the environment like temperature, humidity, and airflow. The material is turned mechanically or mixed to ensure that the material is adequately aerated. The dimensions of the vessel may differ in size and capacity.
Extensive food processing facilities typically employ these. This process is expensive and could require expertise in technology to use it correctly. This process creates compost in a matter of weeks. It will take a few weeks or months before it is ready for use because the microbial activity requires balance, and the pile must be cooled.
A Japanese professor in the 1980s created the Bokashi composting method. Bokashi is the term used to describe the process of breaking down organic waste by fermentation.
This method for composting is carried out indoors; however, you’ll require access outside to finish the process. Food waste, including bones, meat, and dairy products, is stored in an airtight bokashi bucket and then layered with bran or germ. The germ or bran provides food for the microorganisms that ferment waste. This is anaerobic, which means that oxygen is not required for breakdown to take place.
The broken-down product must be either buried or put into a grave (preferably placed in a trench for garden purposes away from plant roots that are young or in a traditional compost pile.) This will further break down the fermented product making it compost that can be used. The liquid is generated throughout the process, which is then drained out through the spigot located towards the bottom of the bucket.