Golden rules to create Organic Fertilizer

Golden rules to create Organic Fertilizer
24/01/2015 Margarida Moreira

Composting (organic fertilizer) consists on inducing the decomposition of a mixture of organic material (plant or animal origin) by the action of fungi and bacteria, to turn into a fertilizer.
Composting improves the quality of natural manure, lowering their temperature and by inhibiting the release of toxic volatile compounds (odors and gases), thereby preventing damage to the plants. The compost corrects the pH, maintains the proper temperature and humidity, balances the concentration of nitrogen and carbon in soil.

To create good compost is necessary to adjust aerobic conditions (aeration), humidity and temperature. The microorganisms responsible for the decomposition of organic materials require oxygen, whereby aeration is essential for this process. Aeration is achieved by balancing and mixing coarse materials, straw, shredded woody materials and vegetable peels with more compact materials (manure, grass, leaves etc.). After piling debris (recommended creating small huddled with height up to 1,5 m and a width of 2,5 m), which should not be stepped on, one should stir, uniform and often ventilate the material for composting. The aerobic decomposition process releases energy (as heat), carbon dioxide and water.

With regard to moisture, should always be around 50 to 60% (the compound should wet the hand, but not dripping), the percentage depends on the absorption capacity of the materials. The aeration removes excess moisture and cool the heap, thus hindering the fermentation and compound formation. On the other hand, the shortage of water increases the temperature to inadequate levels. Temperature is another key factor and should be between 50 to 60°C. The temperature should not exceed 65°C because the microbial activity ceases and the chemical substances degrade. The temperature can be controlled by balancing the ratio (percentage) of carbon and nitrogen, with aeration and humidity. The ratio of carbon (energy) and nitrogen (protein) must be balanced in order to favor the composting process: the woody materials must be properly ground and appropriate to the amount of materials with C/N (Carbon/Nitrogen) lower.

The process begins maturing phase when the temperature of the compound is less than 45ºC, this occurs between 2 weeks to 1 year of cure, depending on the material to decompose (green material decomposes faster) and quantity. The organic fertilizer is only cured when the temperature is equal (or near) to the surrounding air. A good compost cured, although not look like the land should smell like earth and never rotten.

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