Key to Promoting Increased Composting

CANADA - A research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada suggests public awareness of the importance of composting and recycling and public pressure will be needed to stimulate the growth of Canada's composting industry, according to Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 13 August 2010
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Making composted manure was examined last month when the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment and Richardson International hosted a soil and manure management field workshop.

Dr Katherine Buckley, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and an adjunct professor with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, says the first step in preparing to compost livestock manure is to identify a suitable site with good drainage that is fairly impermeable to avoid nutrient leaching through the soil or nutrient running off into surrounding water bodies.

Dr Katherine Buckley-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

It's a replacement of different micro-organisms during that whole composting process.

The manure is populated by mesophilic bacteria that operate at lower temperatures, between 20 and 40 degrees centigrade.

They set the stage for the next population of bacteria which are thermophiles and they are the ones that are responsible for the very rapid heating in compost and the very rapid decomposition.

We like to encourage those conditions where those thermophilic bacteria can get established and they require a lot of moisture and a lot of air because they respire very quickly so we want to optimize those conditions to get the thermophiles active.

The thermophilic period lasts about 15 to 20 days or 21 days and then starts to cool off and be repopulated by mesophilic bacteria that continue the decomposition for another several months, up to several months before you really enter the curing stage at which time the compost is basically at ambient temperatures.

Dr Buckley believes it will be public pressure that will push the composting industry forward.

She says education is key and suggests we need more information to pass to farmers and to the public about the value of this product and she encourages more backyard composting to reduce the amount of material that goes to the landfill.

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