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Large-Scale Organic Materials Composting

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Composting is the aerobic decomposition of organic materials by microorganisms under controlled conditions into a soil-like substance called compost. During composting, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi break down complex organic compounds into simpler substances and produce carbon dioxide, water, minerals, and stabilized organic matter (compost). The process produces heat, which can destroy pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) and weed seeds.
Raw materials are composted fastest when conditions that encourage the growth of the microorganisms are established and maintained. The most important conditions include the following:

  • Organic materials blended to provide the nutrients that support microbial activity and growth, including a balanced supply of carbon and nitrogen (C:N ratio)
  • Sufficient oxygen to support aerobic organisms
  • Moisture levels that uphold biological activity without hindering aeration
  • Temperatures needed by microorganisms that grow best in a warm environment.
Authors: 
Rhonda Sherman
Publisher: 
North Carolina State University