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Aerobic Bacteria in Compost

Updated: 4 days ago

Welcome to my world of Mushrooms say Taj 2 Mushroom

A Grower frequently uses the word Aerobic and Anaerobic, let us discuss a bit further. Aerobic bacteria are the most important to the process of converting organic waste to compost. They are necessary for the conversion of the organic material into the moist, rich compost we are attempting to produce.

These aerobic bacteria require oxygen levels of more than 5% to oxidize carbon to provide them with energy. This oxidation process produces the heat that raises the temperature of the compost heap, or bin, during the early stages of the composting process. Under the right conditions, the compost will heat up within a day or two to 80°C or higher, due to the aerobic bacteria consuming readily decomposable material. In addition to carbon, Nitrogen is also necessary to the composting process enabling the bacteria to form the protein necessary for them to grow and reproduce. Hence the importance of the C: N ratio.

If the oxygen level falls below five percent bacterial activity will slow down and the decomposition rate can be reduced by as much as 90%.

Anaerobic Bacteria

Where there is insufficient oxygen present to support the growth of aerobic microorganisms i.e. under anaerobic conditions, anaerobic bacteria will ferment the organic material. Unfortunately, for the composter, the anaerobic process results in the production of organic acids and amines, producing the easily recognizable smell of ammonia, as well as hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs smell). The organic material is turned into a wet, smelly black mass. In practice, if this happens it is because we have the C: N ratio wrong. We can try to rectify the situation by adding additional carbon rich material and turning the compost to open the mix to create conditions under which aerobic bacteria can function.

The requirement for a moist mix during the composting process, is 72% - 74 % moisture content, it is because the Compost microorganisms live in the water films surrounding the particles of organic matter.

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