Composting – Making Soil Improver from Rubbish

This is a great old document from the CSIRO on composting. It is written for the home gardener but also has some great scientific information like the right carbon to nitrogen ratios(C/N ratio) for compost.

Composting – Making soil improver from rubbish
Rubbish is one product our society makes very well. We make mountains and oceans of it. We dump it in holes and in the sea, bury it and burn it. But when we run out of holes, when the sea can not take any more, and when we get sick of smoke in our eyes, what do we do then?
One answer given by those who are concerned about our soils and food production system is: “Compost it and return it to the soil”. They are, of course, referring to the many organic materials that we throw away or burn – lawn clippings, leaves, weeds, sawdust, paper, kitchen scraps, seaweed, etc. The compost heap can convert this bulky “rubbish” into a soil improver and fertiliser. This booklet is about the science and art of making compost, and has a bit of philosophy too.

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Composting – Making Soil Improver from Rubbish

2 thoughts on “Composting – Making Soil Improver from Rubbish”

  1. I am doing an organic farming course and were disscussing composting and making compost heaps. During the disscussion the subject of adding meat to the heap was raised. There were different opinions on this addition to the compost heap with one of the concerns that was raised was if, for instance a chicken carcas which had been treated with anti-biotics was added to the heap. How would this affect the heap and would the process of composting destroy the anti-biotic. Is there anyway that you could help me with this quirey? Many thanks Cathy Bond

  2. Hi Cathy,
    I personally don’t think the antibiotics will be a problem as they will be in small quantities if the poultry grower has done the right thing. If you have a good compost heap with large counts of fungi and bacteria some will breakdown the antibiotics. Soil and compost contains billions of bacteria and fungi and there are bound to be a few that can use the antibiotics as a food source. The problem I can see with using animal waste is the potentional of passing on animal diseases to humans. This is how the mad cow problem was started with animal products feed to other animals. Adding chicken carcases to a compost that will then be placed in gardens or farms could have similar problems. For vegetative crops like lettuce or spinach the risk maybe too high as water can easily splash the compost inside the plant. In orchards where the fruit is a long way from the compost this isn’t such an issue so chicken carcases could be used if the proper procedures are used to ensure they are fully composted before being used on plants.

    All the best with your course.

    Cheers
    Tim