Compost is the end product of a complex feeding pattern involving hundreds of different organisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms and insects.
What remains after these organisms break down is an organic material that is rich and earthy and a substance that the soil loves.
Humus is the goal of composting.
The essential elements required by the composting microorganisms are carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and moisture. If any of these elements are lacking, or if they are not provided in the proper proportion, the microorganisms will not flourish and will not provide an adequate heat.
A composting process that operates at optimum performance will convert organic matter into stable compost that is odour and pathogen free, and a poor breeding substrate for flies and other insects. In addition, it will significantly reduce the volume and weight of organic waste as the composting process converts much of the biodegradable component to gaseous carbon dioxide.
The composting process is carried out by three classes of microbes -
- Thermophiles - high temperature microbes
- Mesophiles -medium temperature microbes
- Psychrophiles - low temperature microbes
As a result of the in-vessel process, Fairfield's composting process begins at thermophilic temperatures. When the `food' that the thermophiles live on is exhausted, the system temperature decreases and a new set of microbes (mesophiles) become dominant.
Temperature is directly proportional to the biological activity within the composting system. As the metabolic rate of the microbes accelerates, the temperature within the system increases. Conversely, as the metabolic rate of the microbes decreases, the system temperature decreases.
Fairfield's in-vessel composting process means that the compost is in the VCU for 7 days, ensuring that temperatures exceed 70°c, thereby guaranteeing the destruction of weed seeds, fly larvae and plant viruses and pathogens.
Composting microorganisms thrive in moist conditions. For optimum performance, moisture content within the composting environment should be maintained at 45 percent. Too much water can cause the compost pile to go anaerobic and emit obnoxious odors. Too little will prevent the microorganisms from propagating.