In the global context of social confinement due to the COVID19 pandemic, in Argentina, the INTA (National Institute of Agricultural Technology) highlights the benefits of making home compost with organic waste produced at home.
Whether this waste comes from the kitchen or the garden, when composted, it contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases, pathogens and facilitates collection management, among other advantages.
The world is facing a health crisis in which the need to be more sustainable resurfaces, opt for the circular economy to reduce waste and, thus, become more environmentally friendly.
Recovery, recycling and composting are the way to go to guarantee a better quality of life. In this line, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development established by Resolution 92/2020 that from March 22 -Water day- to April 27 -Earth day-, in Argentina the Composting Month will be held .
For Alejandro Benítez –inta ProHuerta Córdoba technician–, “lhe home compost production is an opportunity to convert household waste into an organic amendment, in addition to numerous other benefits related to improving the quality of life and being more sustainable”.
Along these lines, he stressed that “Composting reduces the frequency of waste collection, minimizes the generation of leachate at the waste disposal site and the proliferation of pathogens, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
In turn, a useful amendment is obtained for plants in gardens, orchards and balconies, since it improves the life of the soil. In addition, it reduces the need to buy chemical fertilizers and fertilizers, while promoting an awareness of recycling and making use of the waste we produce.
Composting consists of a biological process carried out by aerobic microorganisms, under controlled conditions of humidity, temperature and aeration. Thus, the transformation of degradable organic waste into a stable product is allowed.
To make a compost bin, a wide variety of materials can be used for its construction from wooden pallet boards, sawmill ribs or slats, or discarded paint buckets. Compost bins can be mobile or fixed and their size will depend on the number of family members.
In general, for households with up to 3 people, a compost bin 70 centimeters wide by 80 centimeters long and 50 centimeters high will be necessary. When the number of people is 5, the length will be 1.2 meters and the rest of the measurements will be the same. In the case of a family of up to 7 people, the length will be 1.5 meters.
As a routine, it is important to have a container with a hermetic lid on the kitchen counter where organic waste such as fruit and vegetable remains, raw or cooking, eggshells, tea bags, yerba, coffee, napkins and kitchen paper rolls. Tissues, diapers and sanitary towels will not be included.
“To facilitate the action of microorganisms, it is recommended to chop everything into 5-centimeter sizes, before composting”, Indicated the specialist from ProHuerta.
Neither dairy, fat, egg and meat residues, since they are difficult to break down and attract vectors such as flies, mosquitoes, rodents and pests in general. "Prepared foods should not be included either, because they provide many salts to the compost, reducing its final quality, in addition to attracting vectors”Benítez recommended.
With regard to garden waste, dry and green leaves, dry and green grass, twigs, bushes and plant remains will be collected. Weed residues with seeds, dog and cat, pig and chicken droppings will not be included.
To dump organic waste in the compost bin, its classification by its nitrogen (green) and carbon (brown) content must be taken into account in order to maintain a balance between the two. Specialists recommend mixing one part green waste with two parts dry waste.
In turn, to guarantee quality, in addition, the materials that help to maintain humidity and adequate ventilation must be considered. Among the main recommendations are to water once every 15 days in winter and once a week in summer.
An easy way to tell if it contains adequate moisture is to take a handful of material and squeeze it. If there is a drip of water between the fingers, it is correct. "To avoid excess humidity, it is appropriate to have red worms that help aeration of the residue”, Specified the technician.
With regard to aeration, it is advisable to turn the material to increase the oxygen-dependent microbial activity and help to remove excess water and heat. "It is important that the bottom of each container is a strainer type so that it allows eliminating liquids and the passage of worms," he explained.
“The compost is ready to be used on the plants when the origin of the materials cannot be identified, it is at room temperature, has the smell of wet earth, dark color and homogeneous appearance.”, Assured the ProHuerta technician.
Here is a downloadable manual for composting at home: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/sites/default/files/instructivo_para_la_produccion_de_compost_domiciliario.pdf