Main factors influencing the manufacture and quality of composts

in StemSocial2 months ago

Composting is based on the biological process carried out by microorganisms, therefore it is affected by all those factors that influence the growth and activity of these microorganisms. Thus, the main factors that condition the composting process are the type of substrate (waste), aeration or presence of oxygen, moisture content, pH and carbon/nitrogen ratio. These factors condition and determine the development of the process and the obtaining of a quality final product.

▶ Credits: Thisoldhouse. – [Image of Public Domain]

▶ Credits: Finegardening. – [Image of Public Domain]

▶ As already mentioned, among the main factors are the type of substrate, since the waste used for composting determines the quality of the product to be obtained after the composting process. In addition, the physical characteristics of the material influence the composting process since they can affect the decomposition and the presence of oxygen in the pile.

Another factor is porosity, it is related to aeration and movement of the compost in the compost pile. The greater the porosity of the pile, the greater the aeration.

Particle size is another factor, since the activity of microorganisms generally occurs on the surface of the particles, therefore the particle size should be smaller in order to increase the surface area and favor the activity of the microorganisms and the rate of decomposition.

The ideal particle size is 2 to 5 cm, and the smaller the particle size, the more compacted the pile tends to become, which results in less aeration and therefore less microbial activity, slowing down the process.

▶ Credits: Compost-turner. – [Image of Public Domain]

Carbon and nitrogen are the most important elements required for microbial decomposition since they form a fundamental part of the proteins, carbohydrates and lipids that constitute the microorganisms. In a practical way, the carbon/nitrogen ratio allows to know the decomposition speed and to determine the composting time, as long as the humidity, aeration and temperature conditions are optimal. In order to obtain a good quality compost, it is important that there is a balanced relationship between both elements.

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