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 5 Basic Steps for Composting

Establishing a formal composting waste program for leftover food scraps and green, organic materials is something that is gaining popularity and frequency in many municipalities and neighborhoods in rural, urban, and suburban areas. A Composting program can be an effective way to reduce waste disposal fees, can contribute to replenishing the quality of soil, and helps to save space in landfills for items that cannot be recycled. However, before your city or town starts a composting program for waste food and food scraps, it’s essential that some research be done first.

Whether you’re starting a small composting program or a large project, understanding and controlling these five composting requirements will help to improve your chances for food waste recycling success.

1.     The first key to food composting success is to understand the nutrient and feedstock balance. Successful decomposition of organic matter requires a balance of “green” organic material that is nitrogen-rich such as horse, cow, goat, chicken or other farm animal manure, food waste and food scraps, grass clippings, and “brown” organic materials that are carbon-rich such as wood chips, branches, and dry leaves. Establishing the right nutrient blend for your geographical location requires patience and experimentation. If you get it right, you’ll have nutrient-rich compost. If you get it wrong, you’ll send up with something that resembles a bad-smelling pile of food waste!

2.     The second factor to control for is the particle size. If you fail to shred the compostable material the surface area won’t be ideal for organisms to feast on and the breakdown will take much longer or not at all. However, shredding material into very small pieces will restrict the air flow and that can reduce the composting process. Once again, you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for your climate.

3.     Moisture is also an important composting factor to remember. The microorganisms living and eating their way through your compost pile require moisture to survive. Depending upon the climate and weather conditions in your region, occasional watering of your compost pile may be necessary.

4.     All living things require oxygen to survive and your compost pile is a living thing. Regardless of the size of your compost pile, it needs to be turned on a regular basis to monitor the decomposition process and if necessary, adding in brown or green matter.

5.     It is helpful to monitor the temperature of the compost area as microorganisms cannot survive when conditions are overly hot or cold. Having an understanding of the weather and temperature conditions will help you to plan the best place for a compost pile and if additional support may be required during winter or summer months.

Composting food isn’t quite as easy as disposing of food in the garbage, but once you understand the science and requirements, you can help to improve the environment while save your business or municipality money by removing food waste materials from the landfill.


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