Compost is used as an organic fertiliser which can be added to the soil. Manuring with compost maintains the soil structure and adds nutrients to the soil. A good soil structure ensures improved circulation of water, air and nutrients. It is good for soil life and plant growth. Adding compost to sandy soils increases the water retention capacity. Other uses of compost include erosion prevention, potting soil, mushroom growing and fish feed.
How does it work?
Composting means piling up crop and other farm wastes in layers to make them decompose quickly. It is a bio-chemical process in which micro-organisms decompose organic waste matter (crop residue, kitchen wastes, cowdung, urine) into a soil-improving product. The final product is a uniform, black mass of rotten, nutrient-rich manure. Composting is done to produce an organic fertiliser that is balanced in plant nutrients. This organic fertiliser, known as humus, improves soil fertility, moisture retention and soil aeration.
Compost can be used in all soils with low fertility. It is especially good in areas that have low rainfall, where artificial fertilisers cannot be used effectively because of lack of moisture. It is also useful in sandy soils which have poor water-holding capacity. Compost improves the structure and drainage of all soils.
What are the advantages of composting?
- Large amounts of vegetation, such as crop remains, garden weeds, kitchen and household wastes, hedge cuttings, garbage, etc, are put to use.
- When properly made, compost becomes immediately available as plant food without the need to be first broken down by soil microorganisms.
- Compost does not cause excessive weed growth, as is the case with ordinary farm manure.
- Good crops can be obtained without the need for extra chemical inputs.
- All farmers, regardless of their financial abilities, can make and use compost.
What are the disadvantages?
- Compost requires a lot of labour and time to prepare and to spread it over the farm.
- The nutrient composition of the compost varies a great deal. It depends on the materials used and the preparation methods (see Using organic matter).
- Low availability of vegetation to make compost in drier areas.
Notice: Compost and farmyard manure are major sources of weed seeds. Weed seeds withstand partial decomposition. Therefore put only fully decomposed compost and farmyard