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Composting methods and techniques

  •   September 22nd, 2014
  •   Category: News, Composting
  •   Posted by: Ecodyger
Make compost, not war

Composting is a natural process during which organic waste, thanks to small organisms activity (bacteria, mushrooms, bugs) present in the ground and in the waste itself, is processed and transform into a sort of fertilizer, named “compost”.

Friendly micro-organisms

In order for this process to develop properly (under control) and in shorter time than naturally, it is necessary to keep the organic material to compost in a optimal life condition for its micro-organisms. Micro-organisms are the main engine of the transformation.

These organisms are aerobic, meaning that their life is possible only in presence of oxygen. If oxygen is missing, they die and are substitute by other micro-organisms called anaerobic. These operate in total lack of oxygen and start a sort of degradation of the material producing also smelly substances, sometimes toxic for plants. This proves that for composting oxygen is indispensable.

compost micro-organisms

Compost micro-organisms.

Compost should be pampered at the right temperature

Aerobic micro-organisms live and proliferate only in conditions of medium humidity (50-70%) and they die with temperature lower than 5°C or higher than 70°C. It must be précised that if fresh materials are not added to the waste pile, the temperature will rise until 50-60°C (or more) and then will naturally decrease until reaching a steady environment temperature. In any case, low temperatures largely reduce the micro-organisms activity.

The initial temperature peak is due to the intense activity of the micro-organisms in presence of fresh waste. During the developing of the process and the reduction of fresh waste, temperatures decrease and so does bacteria’s activity. The achievement of temperature close to 50-60°C is then not only normal, but desirable as it indicates the transformation is proceeding well and permits the elimination of eventual pathogen organisms present in the organic material. A phase called “sanitation” happens.

Furthermore, materials must not be too wet or too dry, and excessive cooling or heating conditions must not happen.

Composting techniques

The process of composting can be started both on an industrial or home level.

Regarding the industrial level, the process is realized on a vast scale, with relevant quantities of material (hundreds or thousands of tons). Computerized systems and machines are used to control the fundamental parameters (oxygen, humidity, temperature) of every single detail to obtain the maximum time reduction of the transformation. We will have occasion to dig in this subject in a future blog’s article.

On the home level, the process is handled in a very easy way, although a relative control of the fundamental parameters it is always necessary.

There are two main techniques of home composting:

  1. Pile composting;
  2. With a composter;

To complete the information, there are also two variations of pile composting:

  • hole (or manure pit)
  • DIY composter (silos or wood box)

Pile composting

Pile composting example (Image Cascine Orsine)

In the next episode of our blog we will discuss deeper these techniques.

Ecodyger allows to obtain the same result as composting, but with just 5-7 hours instead of months. Also, with Ecodyger it is possible to compost wet waste also for those who don’t have a garden or a dedicated area.

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(Cover image Caroline Flickr)