What is Composting?
Compost is an organic material that can be used as a soil adaptive or medium to grow plants. The collection and composting of organics allows for the diversion of material such as food waste, yard trimmings, soiled papers, napkins/tissue, wax board, and cardboard from landfills. This material is placed into piles, rows, or vessels depending on the type of composting system in order to produce a high quality of compost. The material is then cured to allow for it to stabilize and mature. Some of the different composting systems include vermicomposting, aerated windrow composting, aerated static pile composting, and in-vessel composting.
- When composting, it is important to understand how the process works. It is important to control feedstock to maintain a nutrient balance of nitrogen heavy organic materials such as food waste and materials that contain large amounts carbon such as wood chips and leaves. These are often referred to as “green” and “brown” organic materials respectively. It is also important to have materials which are ground or shredded so that micro-organisms can feed on them. Finally, it is important to maintain an adequate moisture, oxygen flow (by turning or aerating the pile), and temperatures so that micro-organisms maintain optimal activity.
Why is Composting Awesome?
- The advantages of composting are vast and often go unnoticed. First and foremost it reduced the amount of organics entering landfills. This not only helps save valuable landfill space, but also reduces the 186.4 million cubic tons of methane emissions generated by organics in landfills every year. Composting also allows for the removal of solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from stormwater runoff. In addition to reducing the effects that organics have in landfills, composting allows for the reduction or elimination of need for chemical fertilizers. When applied to any soil, compost increases moisture retention and promotes higher yields of crops.