As per the Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-third of the total food produced for human consumption (nearly 130 crore tons) is wasted globally. Even though it is hard to control food wastage, by turning food waste into compost, we can give precious nutrients back to the soil.
Compost can help enhance the physio-chemical and biological properties of the soil. By being a source of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other plant nutrients, it can significantly contribute to soil structure. Compost can also compensate for the lack of fertilizers and result in improved food production. Let’s discuss more about composting, its benefits, and its usage in India.
What is composting?
The natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food wastes into a valuable fertilizer is known as composting. Anything which is living will eventually decompose. However, composting speeds up this process by providing an ideal environment for fungi, bacteria, and other decomposing organisms. The resulting decomposed matter looks like fertile garden soil and is rich in nutrients. Compost can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agricultural purposes.
Types of composting processes
Composting can be carried out in two ways: Aerobically and Anaerobically
In aerobic composting, organic compounds are oxidized by aerobic micro-organisms (organisms that require oxygen) to form carbon dioxide, nitrite, and nitrate. While carbon from these organic compounds is used as a source of energy, nitrogen is recycled. Due to the heat produced in this process, the temperature of this compost is high. However, other than heat and water, carbon dioxide is also released during the process. The amount of carbon dioxide produced is so little that it gets easily absorbed by the surroundings. Aerobic compost can be prepared by simply putting organic material into a bin or a heap in the garden and aerating it. The material may include vegetable scraps, tree leaves, wood shavings or sawdust, yard waste, etc.
Anaerobic composting takes place without the introduction of oxygen. It means that the breakdown of the organic materials takes much longer and produces less heat. This lack of heat often results in pathogens and weeds and causes a significant amount of methane gas to be released into the atmosphere. In anaerobic composting, nitrogen-rich materials (having high water content) such as grass cuttings, leftover food, animal slurries, etc. are processed in an anaerobic composter. The wet biomass is sealed in containers, trench, or pits allowing the anaerobic bacterial microbes to thrive in an oxygen-free environment and turn into compost.
Why is composting done?
Food waste is a huge burden on our environment. However, composting food scraps and garden waste can reduce that burden to a great extent. With the help of composting, we can divert some of the waste that goes into landfills and pollutes the environment to something useful for agricultural produce.
Agriculture consumes a significant amount of water. Irrigation systems are effective but are time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, water is becoming increasingly scarce. Using compost will increase the water-retaining capacity of the soil and increase the crop yield.
Improves soil health
Compost constitutes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It also includes traces of calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Hence, instead of relying on synthetic fertilizers that contain harmful chemicals, compost offers an organic alternative. Not just soil’s water retention capacity, compost also increases soil’s productivity and resiliency.
Covid 19 pandemic had a huge impact on the lives of farmers. Due to their limited incomes and purchasing power, they were unable to purchase essential agricultural inputs such as fertilizers. During that time, on-farm composting helped them mitigate the negative impacts associated with the affordability and availability of fertilizers.
Currently, [India produces about 1.5 lakh tons of solid waste every day. However, its biodegradable fraction ranges between 30%-70% in various cities. This means that there is a huge potential for composting in our country. But, uncontrolled decomposition of organic waste can lead to the emission of hazardous greenhouse gases. It is important that all necessary actions are taken to promote disposal mechanisms for waste management.
As you can see, composting plays a significant role as a supplement to chemical fertilizers. It also helps in fulfilling increased food demands of consumers and also takes care of the soil quality. Nutrient-rich soil helps in producing a surplus amount of agricultural produce. These are then brought to the market yards or mandis and prepared for auctions. Aadathiyas organize these auctions and ultimately sell the products to potential buyers. This involves a huge amount of paperwork in the form of bill generation and payment tracking. However, it is hard to do mandi accounting manually. So for keeping a track of daily mandi transactions, Bijak, India’s no. 1 agri-trading app has introduced ChargeERP. It is the easiest, fastest, and most secure mandi accounting platform designed for commission agents.
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