Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. Modern, methodical composting is a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Aerobic bacteria and fungi manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. The nitrogen is the form of ammonium (NH4) used by plants. When available ammonium is not used by plants it is further converted by bacteria into nitrates (NO3) through the process of nitrification.
Compost can be rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation, wetland construction, and as landfill cover. Organic ingredients intended for composting can alternatively be used to generate biogas through anaerobic digestion.
In the context of Nepal, composting has often been undertaken in backyards at the simplest level, a process whereby a heap of wetted organic matter known as green waste (leaves, food waste) is left to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT COMPOSTING?
Here are some resources we have curated for the Nepalese context:
A short Peppa Pig animated video on the process of composting and how children can take part!
An animated teaching guide by the Highfields Centre for Composting in which students will learn about compost, the importance of closing the loop on their food system and how to separate food scraps effectively.
An animated video on how aerobic bacteria, fungi and worms break down organic matter to convert it into compost.
Ways to Compost
An interesting TED talk that highlights the importance of leaves in the process of composting.
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