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Organic matter constitutes 35%–40% of the municipal solid waste generated in India. This waste can be recycled by the method of composting, one of the oldest forms of disposal. It is the natural process of decomposition of organic waste that yields manure or compost, which is very rich in nutrients. Composting is a biological process in which micro-organisms, mainly fungi and bacteria, convert degradable organic waste into humus like substance. This finished product, which looks like soil, is high in carbon and nitrogen and is an excellent medium for growing plants. The process of composting ensures the waste that is produced in the kitchens is not carelessly thrown and left to rot. It recycles the nutrients and returns them to the soil as nutrients. Apart from being clean, cheap, and safe, composting can significantly reduce the amount of disposable garbage. The organic fertilizer can be used instead of chemical fertilizers and is better specially when used for vegetables. It increases the soil’s ability to hold water and makes the soil easier to cultivate. It helped the soil retain more of the plant nutrients.

Composting: some benefits

Compost allows the soil to retain more plant nutrients over a longer period.

It supplies part of the 16 essential elements needed by the plants.
It helps reduce the adverse effects of excessive alkalinity, acidity, or the excessive use of chemical fertilizer.
It makes soil easier to cultivate.
It helps keep the soil cool in summer and warm in winter.
It aids in preventing soil erosion by keeping the soil covered.
It helps in controlling the growth of weeds in the garden.

Vermi-composting has become very popular in the last few years. In this method, worms are added to the compost. These help to break the waste and the added excreta of the worms makes the compost very rich in nutrients. In the activity section of this web site you can learn how to make a compost pit or a vermi-compost pit in your school or in the garden at home.

To make a compost pit, you have to select a cool, shaded corner of the garden or the school compound and dig a pit, which ideally should be 3 feet deep. This depth is convenient for aerobic composting as the compost has to be turned at regular intervals in this process. Preferably the pit should be lined with granite or brick to prevent nitrite pollution of the subsoil water, which is known to be highly toxic. Each time organic matter is added to the pit it should be covered with a layer of dried leaves or a thin layer of soil which allows air to enter the pit thereby preventing bad odour. At the end of 45 days, the rich pure organic matter is ready to be used.

For more information on composting link to