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Composting is the process of aerobically decomposing a diverse mix of organic materials.

Aerobic, because the majority of pests and disease-causing organisms require reduced oxygen conditions in order to out-compete the beneficial aerobic organisms. thus to maintain beneficial sets of organisms, aerobic conditions must be maintained. Decomposition requires bacteria and fungi in the proper balance to decompose all the different plant resources, from simple sugars to complex lignin and cellulose structures, and protozoa and beneficial nematodes to consume the nutrient-retainers, bacteria and fungi, and release soluble, inorganic nutrients which allows nutrient cycling to proceed. and stimulate the growth of more bacteria and fungi to continue decomposition processes. Only when conditions become limited in oxygen (below a threshold of 6 ppm oxygen) do anaerobic bacteria and yeasts (anaerobic fungi), convert the soluble, inorganic forms of N, S, and P into gases, which means fertility is lost as these nutrients are lost through volatilization. Only once conditions become oxygen-limited will extremely low pH organic acids be produced by anaerobic bacteria and yeasts. The only way pH can drop below 5.5 is if these anaerobic organisms begin to grow, producing these strong acids. Thus, compost must remain aerobic, if plants production is to be enhanced by application of this excellent source of fungal and bacterial foods and stored forms of nutrients.

Conditions where organic matter will become anaerobic are many and varied. If too high a concentration of easy-to-use foods are mixed into the pile at any time, bacteria and yeasts can start to grow so rapidly that oxygen will be consumed by the growing organisms faster than oxygen can move into the material, the the material will become anaerobic.

If water concentration is too high in the compost materials, oxygen diffusion will be limited, and the pile will become anaerobic because oxygen does not move through water very rapidly.

If bacteria and fungi grow so rapidly that they raise the temperature of the pile above 160 to 165 F (some give and take in those temperatures based on outside air temperatures, structure built in the pile by the microbes allowing more rapid oxygen movement into the pile, or on the water content, on turning, etc.

If the piles reach too high a temperature, i.e., starting to go anaerobic, the pile must be turned to cool the pile and to replenish oxygen in the pile. If not turned and the pile reaches temperature upwards of 180 C, the pile may spontaneously combust, as under anaerobic when alcohol can be produced, spontaneous combustion will occur.

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Why Compost?

Why Compost?

Why Compost?

Location: Full Circle Farm in Carnation, Washington
Featuring: Jessica and Andrew

Compost is a great recycler. It takes "waste materials" and creates a necessary and vital resource: top soil.

Composed of unused vegeatles, coffee chaff, dairy manure, horse manure, and organic compostable materials, Full Circle Farm's compost provides nutrients that feeds the soils for up to 3 years, increases the organic matter content and promotes benefical organisms, improves soil structure, reduces dependence of synthetic fertilizers, and, overall, increases soil fertility.

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