Scientific research

Technology of compost production (composting)

Author: Knowledge Management in CACILM Phase II, ICARDA.

Definition of technology:

Composting of organic wastes and other materials during the process of microbiologial decomposition of organic matter allows obtaining economically viable, ecologically clean organic fertilizer, containing main nutritional elements and microelements essential for plant growth.

Brief summary of technology:

Compost is a valuable organic fertilizer that can be applied for any agricultural crops both in topsoil and in subsoil. It can also be used as mulch. The compost contains 1.4-2% of nitrogen, 0.6-1.0% of phosphorus, 1.0-1.5% of potassium, 3.0-4.0% calcium, 2-4% of humus, 60-70% of organic matter, microelements and microorganisms, which increase the biological soil activity.

Production of compost does not require much investments and allows recycling of organic wastes that originate during agricultural process. Such wastes can be freshly mowed grass, old straw, decayed hay, tree leaves, weeds from fields and pastures, plant tops from gardens, milled barks and branches of trees, reeds and maize spadices, domestic waste (garbage, ash, paper, carton, wastes of cotton goods). Addition of fresh manure, manure slush, liquid poultry dung increases its quality and speeds up the production process.

Composting can be done in heaps, special boxes, shallow trenches. The size of compost heap can differ: the height – till 2 m, width - 3 m and length may be unlimited.

Upon accumulation, these waste products are stored in a shaded place in a heap on a preliminarily prepared layer of tree branches, vines, twigs with a height of approximately 10 cm, to allow air access from the bottom. This heap is covered from top by earth (it is possible to make a shallow depression for watering with liquid manure). To maintain the required moisture (60-70%), the compost heap is watered during dry summer period once a week at the rate of 2-3 buckets of water on 1 m3. To reduce the evaporation in a heap after each watering, this heap is covered with a plastic wrap, but not tightly to ensure a good air flow. Holes must be present at the top and bottom of the heap.

Under these conditions, the temperature  inside the heap can reach 80°C, contributing to the rapid decomposition of organic residues, destruction of pathogens and weed seeds. To improve access of the air inside the heap the compost is shoveled twice a month. With an onset of cold weather, the compost heap is covered with a 10-15 cm earth layer. The period of composting usually lasts 6-12 months.

Location: Tursun-Zade and Vakhdat districts, Central Tadjikistan.

Area of technology application:

1 hа – in the Tangai village Vakhdat district;

0.3 га – in the Gayrat village, Tursun-Zade district.

Stage of intervention: alleviation / reduction of land degradation.

Main land use issues and the main causes of land degradation:

Low natural soil fertility, aggravated by heavily inappropriate anthropogenic practices. Improper management, insufficient fertilizer application to enrich soil nutrients extracted by crops.

Main technical features of technology:

- increasing organic matter contents and nutrient contents;

- increasing biomass (yields);

- improving physical-chemical soil properties.

Type of land use Conservation measures

Arable irrigated and dry-farming land.

Cultivation of annual agricultural crops - Во(Ca);

Cultivation of trees and shrubs - Вд(Ct).

Mixed type land use.

Mixed land use Agroforestry: arable land and trees -Сл(Mf).

Agronomic measures:

A1: Vegetation and soil cover;

A2: Organic matter / soil fertility.

Environment

Habitat Anthropogenic environment

Average annual rainfall: 500-750 mm.

Altitude (meter above sea level): 500-1500 m.

Landscape: plains and piedmont slopes.

Slope (%): 2-16%.

Soil fertility: low and average.

Humus content in arable horizon: 1-1.5%.

Natural soil drainage/infiltration: good.

Size of land area (ha): 0.3-1 ha.

Landholder: individual households, small and medium size land users.

Land ownership: long term lease from the government.

Water use rights: from government.

Market orientation: mixed farming (subsistence and commercial).

Assessment

Impact of technology

Main advantages:

- ecologically sound fertilizer as all wastes are utilized;

- economically sound as it is a costless fertilizer produced from wastes;

- increased crop yields compared to the manure application by 30% (potato);

- increased farmers’ incomes, increased soil fertility and humus contents;

- improved soil structure.

Main disadvantages:

- not much organic wastes left in villages as most of them is used for animal feeding, fire burning,  etc.;

- low awareness of population about methods of compost production and their advantages.

Acceptance/adoption of technology: This technology did not gain an acceptance in the level of the entire country, but it is used by private farmers living close to the cities and towns, and owners of country houses. It is necessary to raise awareness of land users.

Reference(s): Reports and recommendations of the soil biology department of the Soil Science Institute, TAAS.

Name of person(s) collected this description: Kurbonaly Salimov, Head of the soil biology department of the Soil Science Institute TAAS.

Address: 21а, Rudaki avenue, Dushanbe. Tel: +992904404098. E-mail: kurbonali_salimov@mail.ru

Gulniso Nekushoeva. E-mail: gulniso@mail.ru 

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