compost-determinant-factorsMaking the decision to use a live organic soil medium for your herbs and veggie plants is the best choice. It shows you are up to date on a rapidly developing earth progression as well as being cognoscente of advanced technology for herbal nutrition and taste. So since you are at the top of your class, try and remember all the details, even the ones that are not necessary in compost construction. The small unknown details are actually really fascinating. Making the best organic compost is a nobal endeavor.

Live Organics is Microbes and Substrates

Live organics means microbes and substrates. The substrates will most likely be chosen with built in nutrition.  Unlike traditional hydroponic systems, live organics is all about nutrition buffers (small batteries full of plant goodies) created by microbes and kept available via humus cation capacities. The substrate’s built in nutrition buffering humus is based on a compost. The best organic compost can be made by anyone with the time, interest and ambition to do so. But get ready… if you don’t have the time and knowledge to get it right, you might be better off letting a professional do it. Besides the practice and knowledge, you will be needing a few cultures of different beneficial microorganism (BM’s) groups and feed stock. You can do it without special microbe inoculation but to make the best compost it would be good to also know how to keep around some cultures of specially talented bacterias like lactobacillus and actinomycetes. A good collection of some beneficial fungus like trichoderma and levaduras are important as well.

Three Phases of a Compost

  1. mesophilic phase (temps lower than 45C, with Bacillus mesophilos & Bacillus subtilis))
  2. thermophilic phase (temps btw. 45-70C with Actinomyces thermophilus, Bacillus thermophilus & levaduras )
  3. maturation phase

Microbes in The 3 Phases of Composting

Mesophilic Stage

The cooler mesophilic stage of composting takes place below 40C. Mesophilic bacteria predominate at this stage however fungus will be found in all three stages of composting.  Bacterias are the most abundent microbe found in composting in general. They make up roughly 70% of the microbe compost population. They are the most divers microbe exuding more types of enzymes for molecular bond breaking than fungi. Most of the heat in a compost pile is from bacterial metobolic activity.

Thermophilic Stage

When the compost temp exceeds 40°C, thermophilic bacteria take over, mostly from the genus Bacillus. The different species of bacilli is very diverse at temperatures around 50°C and decreases at 60°C and higher. When temperatures become too high or low, bacilli form endospores  which are very resistant to extreme temperatures as well as a lack of moisture and food. When conditions permit, the spores open and the bacterias become alive and active once again. At temperatures at and above 70C, the genus of bacteria called Thermus take over. Cow droppings contain Thermus. Thermus can be found in hot springs and any other place a 70C and above temperature is naturally created in nature. Fungus in the thermophilic stage will be found in the cooler outer layers of the pile.

Maturation Phase

The maturation phase contains the 2nd phase of mesophilic decomposition as well as a much slower process when temps go below 40C. So look for all the mesophilic bacterias and fungus in this stage as well as actinomycetes bacteria. Actinomycetes are much like a fungus, but like all bacteria do not contain a nuclei. They have long filaments like fungi hyphea which will divide into spores when the conditions are ripe. They are very adapt at breaking down some organic compounds like chitin, lignin, cellulose and proteins which other microbes can not do. They will show up in the thermophilic stage but are most active in the later cooler stages of maturation when only the harder to digest compounds are left over. The actinomycetes enzymes are strong enough to break down woody stems and bark. They may bee seen in the outer 15 centimeters of the cooling compost pile as white rings. many times these white rings grow in diameter as time goes on. Though actinomycetes bacteria are apt at difficult organic compounds, it is the fungus that will be doing most of the work on compounds such as chitin and lignin. Fungus will dominate the hard to break bond activity while actinomycetes compliment their work.

Understanding Composts

There is no perfect or optimal way to make a the best organic compost. It not only depends on what you will be growing, it also depends on what materials are economically available for the compost’s feed stock. Feed stock will vary from country to country or from town to farm. A household will be using kitchen scraps but a well planed company will be using high grade feed stocks such as ground seeds plus livestock manures from chickens and cows. So let me introduce how we produce high grade compost here at Organic Soil Technology. OST is Costa Rica based, with livestock and agro-farms operating in, on and around our volcanic soils. There are plenty of feed stocks available so only the highest grade materials are incorporated.

An easy way to understand compost is to divide/categorize them into 3 parts.

  1. compost components
  2. determinant composting needs
  3. compost procedure

Compost Components

An easy way to understand compost components is to divide/categorize them into 3 parts.

  1. Fibrous plant material with plenty of carbon
  2. Feedstock high in nitrogen or protein
  3. Sugar/carbohydrate source for microbe energy

Compost Determinant Factors or Needs

An easy way to understand determinant composting needs is to divide/categorize them into 7 parts.

  1. Particle Size
  2. Temperature
  3. Humidity
  4. pH
  5. C/N ratio
  6. Aeration
  7. Microbe growth

Compost Making & Procedure

An easy way to understand the composting procedure is to give it a try.

  1. Accumulate all your components
  2. Place the components in layers
  3. Inoculate each layer with microbes and sugars
  4. Mix thoroughly
  5. Mound to a critical mass
  6. Keep it out of reach from rain
  7. Make sure 70C is reached
  8. Turn and mix compost when needed to maintain 70C
  9. When stable (ambient temp) bag store or apply