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Rebuilding Soil’s Health with COMPOST



Introduction to COMPOST: Our Soils across the nation are very hungry with very poor soil structure. Over the past few decades, the power of soil productivity is declining. This is due to the decrease in soil organic matter and insufficient - inadequate natural nutrient supply to the soils. This has resulted in low yields. To improve the soil’s health and increase productivity level, application of COMPOST - a balanced and quality food - to the hungry soils will enhance the plant growth and address the nutritional security soils. 

What is COMPOST & Why we need it: The process of transforming organic materials of plant or animal origin into high value organic manure is called COMPOST. It is a symbol of continuing life. We need COMPOST, because, it is a Great Recycler - Builds Soils Structure – Holds Moisture - Stops Soil Erosion – Improves Aeration in the Soil - Provide nutrients when plants need them – Attracts soil Organisms & Minerals – Neutralize Toxins – Helps plants overcome Soil pH levels (acidic or alkaline) – Stimulates plant growth. 

Who makes COMPOST: The micro organisms living in the soils, also called as decomposers living in the soil makes COMPOST. Mites – Millipedes – Centipedes – Bugs – Snails & Slugs – Spiders – Spring tails – Beetles – Ants – Flies – Nematodes – Earthworms are certain Decomposers, who can be seen with bare eye. Some of the decomposers can be seen only through Microscope and they are Bacteria – Fungi – Actinomycetes – Protozoas etc. Each one of these beneficial organisms has a role in breaking down raw organic matter into finished COMPOST.

Materials required for making COMPOST: Dry organic matters like paddy straw – dried leaves from trees & plants - post harvest residues - saw dust etc. These have carbon element, which are good food for soil microorganisms. Green or raw organic matters such as cow dung, dropping of small birds, fresh leaves, weeds, vegetable and fruit skins etc. These have more nitrogen element, which is also an important food for micro – organisms. Along with these, Water - Cow dung – Ash - Lime powder are the important materials required for making COMPOST.

Soil is; 
A non -renewable resource

Produces food – feed – clothes – shelter – energy etc

Stores and filter water


Recycle nutrients


Constitute a buffer against floods


Sequester carbon 


Help to combat and adopt climate change 


Host a quarter of our planet’s biodiversity. 






Under our feet, there is information superhighway that allows plants to communicate and help each other out . . . It is made of fungi .


NUTRITONAL SECURITY of SOIL is NUTRITIONAL SECURITY OF THE NATION. There is a need to address NUTRITIONAL SECURITY OF SOILS – ANIMALS & HUMAN BEINGS



COMPOST is :

- an Art & Science of mixing various organic materials in a pile a humus containing soil improvement material an organic manure, essential to the soil, like water and air 

- a symbol of continuing life

COMPOST: 
- is a great recycler
- builds soils structure
- forms aggregation
- holds moisture
- stops soil erosion
- improves aeration in the soil
- provide nutrients when plants need them
- attracts positive elements and minerals
- neutralize toxins
- help plants overcome Soil pH levels (acidic or alkaline)
- attracts micro organisms(Compost attracts earthworms)
- stimulates plant growth
- transforms agri waste into HUMUS

HUMUS 

is the end product of composting

Rich in nutrients like Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Pottassium – Sulphur - Iron and Calcium , which are beneficial to both the soil and crops grown in the soil

soaks up water in its pores so that less runoff occurs

contains number of chemical elements that enrich soil

Soil with HUMUS becomes rich, dark colour that absorb far more heat than non-organic soils

soil structure will be loosened and allows air and water for soil organisms and plants


Benefits of Compost

Neutralizes the toxins

helps plants to overcome soil pH levels that are too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline)

Invite worms and beneficial microorganisms to the soil

Growth Stimulator

Compost combats rain erosion

Manages crop diseases



PROCESS OF COMPOST MAKING

Selection of the site 

The site for making a compost should have little shade, hence under a tree (not too close to the tree is advisable). 

The Size of the site where compost is prepared should be 3 ft. width, 3 ft. length and 3 ft height.

Mark the site and clear it by removing whatever weeds, roots and plant waste that are there. 

Then collect coconut, bricks or any other material within the marked site.

Then make a base. This is called as tunneling for aeration. Then apply cow dung as a starter for decomposing the materials used.

The Process of making COMPOST





Chop the materials into small pieces

Drench dry matter in water or add water to the scattered dry matter in the compost site. This thickness of the dry matter should be approximately 5 inches from the ground.

Add cow dung slurry mix on the drenched dry matter. 

Add all the green matter onto the slurry. The thickness of the green matter should be approximately 3 inches above the dry matter.

Apply a small amount of lime powder (like adding pepper and salt on egg omelets).

This is considered as one layer of compost. Then plaster it with wet soil so that the heat generated inside will not escape. Then again apply more drenched dry matters, cow dung slurry, green matters and lime on them and plaster it. Like this, the compost should be manufactured and it should not reach above 6 ft. (All these depend on the collected materials). After one month, make 2 holes on the top surface of the compost heap and add water to accelerate the process. If these steps are followed, the compost will be ready within 3 months.

How to know COMPOST is ready for use: No HEAT in the COMPOST pile - No ROTTEN/ BAD smell – No original form of the materials can be seed – Dark Colour.

The following gives the required proportion of materials to make the compost

Dry matters          - 3 parts (750 kg) 

Green matters      - 2 parts (1500 kg) 

Cow dung              - 1 part (50 kg) 

Water                     - To drench the dried matter before using and to make cow dung slurry (200 litres) 

Lime & Ash          - 10 Kg Ash and  1 kg Lime 

Soil Silt                - To plaster the compost after each layer (500 kg)


Before starting to make compost, ensure that all the materials collected should be cut into small pieces and the the dry matter should be drenched in water.

The Process: 

- Put the dry matter on the compost site & it should be approximately 5 inches from the ground. 

- Add cow dung slurry mix on the drenched dry matter. 

- Add all the green matter onto the slurry. The thickness of the green matter should be approximately 3 inches above the dry matter.

Apply a small amount of lime powder (like adding pepper and salt on egg omelets). 

This is considered as one layer of compost. Then plaster it with wet soil so that the heat generated inside will not escape


Problems & Remedies

Wet, foul smelling heap - Turn the pile. Add carbon rich material. Protect pile from rain

Dry Centre, No decomposition - Turn the pile. Retain the moisture

Warmth only in the middle - Increase material in Pile and moisten

No heat - Add more green matter. Turn. Aerate

Un-decomposed layers - Relayer the pile. Avoid adding heavy leaves without shredded




How to know COMPOST is ready for use:

- No rotten or bad smell

- No original form of materials can be seen

- There should be no heat when hand is entered in the COMPOST

- Colour is dark – brownish black and not sticky


For further details, please contact:
P Srinivas Vasu – email: soilvasu@gmail.com

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