Compost is a very necessary soil amendment extensively used in farming and gardening sectors. Everyone tries to use the best compost in their field. But- Due to the lack of proper knowledge they aren't able to choose the right and best amendment for their soil.
Don't worry- We are here to guide you in choosing the best bio-manure for your Agricultural works.
Let's get started…
What Is Compost?
Compost is a natural bio-fertilizer that is prepared by the decomposition of different organic materials to feed the plants.Every living thing starts to decompose as soon as it dies. The decomposition is a natural process. This is part of the food chain. Due to this part of the food chain- we become able to make our compost and use it in the production process.
When we decompose materials to make compost- Different things should be considered to make a high-quality compost that actually can contribute to our production.Not all compost we make are good for our plants. Things we choose and conditions we maintain determines whether the compost will be of good or bad quality.
What Is Bad Compost?
Compost contains harmful chemicals and toxins that can badly affect the growth and development of plants and do not provide any nutrients in the soil is considered as Bad Compost.When we make our bio-manure in home-There is less chance of adding toxins. However- We should properly care about the process of making compost.Bad color, Nutrient losses, Foul smell, too wet, Too Dry, Too Compact, Half Decomposed, Bad C: N ratio are some of the characteristics of bad compost.
What Is Good Compost?
Compost which doesn't contain any harmful toxins and has high humus content which can provide different micro and macronutrients to plants upgrading different qualities of soil such as soil aggregation, aeration, CEC, water holding capacity nutrient holding capacity and promotion of micro-organisms which further decompose organic matter in humus.
We should give proper attention to all the things we add in our Compost making process. Different materials we add during the decomposing process aids different types of nutrients. Organic materials that are rich in N, P, K should be added while making our manure.
We can test our bio-manure to check nutrients and other minerals which can help us to know if our compost is good or not. But-Tests are expensive to do. So- here we have mentioned the characters of Good Compost which can help to know if our manure is made in the right process or not.
Characteristics of Good Compost
Different characters can be used to judge whether the compost is good or bad. Here- we have listed a few points which help to distinguish between good and bad bio-manure with our eyes:-
- Fragile with a good amount of moisture. It shouldn't be sticky to palm when pressed.
- The maximum amount of organic materials which works as a feed for Micro-organisms.
- Dark brown color with an earthy smell.
- Free from insects, nematodes and wees seeds.
- Fully mature and decomposed well.
- The particles of compost should be fine rather than coarse or bulky.
Conditions to Make Good Compost
The process of making bio-manure by the decomposition of different organic materials with the help of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi needs a very good and stable environment to produce high-quality organic manure.
The conditions that need to be supervised during the composting process in order to get quality results are explained below: -
Moisture is one of the most important factors affecting the quality of compost. Too wet or Too dry manure is not good in the matter of handling and transportation.Moisture is directly related to the bulk density of manure. The perfect moisture content of compost is (40-50) %. We can check moisture by taking a small pile of manure in our hands. What we have to do is- press the manure.
This press should cause dampness in hand but there should not be dripping of water from manure. This is a perfect moisture condition.During hot summer, we can use mulch or make a roof to preserve moisture and During the rainy season- we can make a roof and prevent the water from damaging our compost. Alternate wetting and wrying can cause the loss of nutrients from compost. So- Special care should be done.
pH determines the acidity or alkalinity of any substance. Actually, it measures the H+ ion concentration. The pH around the neutral is good for soil and plants.During acidic conditions- There is less availability of nutrients like Ca, Mg and P and During the alkaline condition, many micronutrients are less available to plants. Due to the unavailability of nutrients, the growth of plants is highly affected and plants may suffer from different diseases.
As the compost is added to the soil, it affects the pH of soil. Therefore- the pH of the Compost should be properly maintained. The best pH of compost is (6-8).It is better to test the manure in the lab to know it's pH. If pH is high, we can use Sulphur to lower it and If pH is low, we can use lime to increase it.
3. C: N Ratio
C: N means carbon to nitrogen ratio. It can also be defined as a mass of carbon to the mass of nitrogen in a substance.Different materials we use to make Compost has a different C:N ratio. This C:N ratio affects the decomposition process. The micro-organisms involved in the decomposition process have C:N ratio of 24:1. That means for every 24 parts of carbon consumed micro-organisms need 1 part of nitrogen.
Therefore, materials having pH near 24:1 should be used for faster decomposition. If we use a substance having C:N ratio more say, 80:1. When microorganisms consume 24 parts of carbon out of 80, then the 1 part of the nitrogen gets finished. To consume the remaining 56 part of carbon, microorganisms use the nitrogen from the soil. This cause immobilization of N and plant cannot grow properly.
Similarly-If we use a substance having C:N ratio less say, 20:1. Then- microorganisms consume 20 parts of carbon without fully consuming 1 part of nitrogen. The remaining N changes into ammonia and get lost in the air. This cause the loss of very valuable nutrient.
Thus, we should try to use materials having C:N ratio near 24:1. The ideal C: N for compost is (20-35):1.
The supply of air helps in the decomposition process of aerobic micro-organisms. There is an opposite relation between moisture content and air in a compost. Less air means more moisture. The ratio of moisture to air in manure should be properly maintained. For this we should turn the pile of compost in every (3-5) days. Aeration also prevents the foul smell that is formed due to over moisture in compost.
Temperature is another important factor affecting the quality of Compost. Different microorganisms involved in the decomposition of organic matter performs best in a certain temperature range. If the temperature becomes too high- Then the compost gets dried. The optimum temperature for Composting is (40-50) °c.
Above the temperature of 50°c pathogens become inactive and if the Temperature rises above 70°c- Pathogens are killed. Therefore, a proper temperature range should be maintained to keep the decomposition process going well.
6. Time Period or Maturity of Compost
This refers to the completeness of the decomposition process. How well the compost has decomposed affects its quality, color, odour, nutrient availability and many more. If the Compost is half decomposed, then the micro-organisms in soil take more time to fully decompose it and plants are deprived of different nutrients. Therefore- Compost should be properly matured.
7. Control of Metals and Non-Degradable Materials
Different Metals like arsenic, copper, lead, mercury and selenium are toxic to plants. These types of elements should be strictly prohibited to use in compost. Similarly- Non-Degradable Materials like plastics also should be avoided. Materials like these not only affects the quality of compost, but They also destroy the structure of the soil. So- Proper care should be done.
Things That Are Good and Bad to Add in Compost
If we want to harvest good compost- Then we should use the right materials. Substances like animal waste, grass clippings and crop residues are common in all manures. We can add gypsum, lime, clay soil, sawdust and worms to produce top-end compost.
Making compost is not a hard job at all. With the right techniques and right materials, we can make very high-quality compost.
Next time when you are thinking of making compost- Do consider all the points mentioned in this article and we are sure the results will amaze you.
If you have any queries-Feel free to ask.
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