Factors Affecting Composting
There are a considerable number of factors that influence the rate at which composting takes place, whether it becomes successful and the quality and amount of yield it produces. More of this can be learnt at the Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute(visit) where experts in the field can give you theoretical as well as practical information on the same. The factors that affect the process of composting include;
Oxygen is the overall determinant of whichever process of composting will take place. That is, it can be either aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen). This in turn determines the rate at which the decomposition will take place. Aerobic composting is relatively faster compared to anaerobic composting.
Composting relies on the action of organisms or microbes to decompose the dead, decaying organic matter. Heat in itself is a by product of the process of decomposition. However, temperature is a great determinant of the rate of composting and value of compost produced. High temperatures kill organisms, which is fatal if you are vermicomposting (use of worms for the composting process). At the same time, heat also kills harmful bacteria which cause acidity and ruin the value of yield. Extreme cold on the other hand, makes the bacteria inactive thus slowing down the rate of composting. It could also kill the worms in vermicompost.
It is therefore paramount that the temperature remain moderate for the best composting results.
Moisture is also a crucial aspect of composting. Without moisture, the bacteria acting on the compost will not be viable and as such will not work to decompose the organic matter. This is especially the case when composting in dry areas. At the same time, too much moisture is harmful for the compost. Too much moisture will “drown” the compost. It takes up the place of air and deprives the compost of oxygen which in turn affects the compost as explained earlier.
Carbon and nitrogen
These are derivatives of the decomposed organic compounds. Green (contains moisture content) organic matter contains nitrogen while the brown (dried up) matter contains carbon. Both of these are essential in determining the overall value of the quality of compost produced. The acceptable ratio of carbon to nitrogen in an average compost is 20-25 to 1. When too much carbon compounds are used, the compost becomes dry since the carbon sucks up all the moisture. This reduces the rate of composting. At the same time, if there are too high amounts of nitrogen in comparison to carbon, the compost becomes too moist. This is usually what makes compost smelly. Similarly, it could also potentially “drown” the compost there by rendering it inactive.