Other than providing nutrients for plants, compost fertilizer also works by repairing physical, chemical, and biological structure of the soil.
Physically, compost increases soil’s ability to store water as a reserve for dry season. Compost also makes your soil fertile and fine. On sandier type of soil, compost acts as some sort of glue to make your soil more solid. And on clay type of soil, compost acts as a harrowing agent to make your soil not too solid and more fine and loose.
Chemically, compost can increase the cationic exchange capacity in soil. Increased organic matters in soil give way to increased cationic exchange capacity. Cationic exchange capacity can help give more nutrients for plants.
Biologically, compost is a good media for organisms in soil to reproduce, be it microorganisms or other animals that live in soil. Their activities will enrich your soil with needed nutrients.
Generally, compost has certain characteristics as follows: it smells the same as soil, blackish brown in color, drown in water entirely and doesn’t make the water muddy, when applied to soil doesn’t stimulate weed growth.
Any kind of organic material will naturally decompose with the help of hundreds types of microorganisms (bacteria, fungus, yeast) and other soil animals. Decomposing process happens aerobically and anaerobically alternatively.
In aerobic process, composting process doesn’t produce rotting smell and releases heat energy. Heightened temperature because of this is very beneficial for aerobic microbes. However, when the temperature reaches over 65 degree celcius, most microbes will die and composting will happen slowly. The solution is by giving it a stir once in a while to keep the temperature not too high.
In anaerobic process, things happen in phases. The first phase is when the facultative bacteria decompose organic matters into fatty acid. The second phase is when other microbes turn fatty acid into ammoniac, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen. This process produce lower heat than the aerobic process.
Generally, composting happens in three phases. Phase one is the decomposing of organic matters that are easy to decompose, producing high heat and happens shortly. Phase two is the decomposing of organic matters that are harder to decompose, producing fresh compost. Phase three is the maturing of the compost into complex clay-humus bonds.
The main ingredient in composting is from the remnants of plants of manure. Each has different nutrients that are needed by plants.
Before making compost, you should know the purpose of your compost first and foremost. You should know the most needed nutrients by your plants. For example, plants that are just about starting to grow need nitrogen while plants that are about to fruit need more potassium.
Composts have different nutrients depends on the main ingredients, however not specific that is unlike the factory made chemical fertilizers. But you can manipulate your compost to be made of certain ingredients that suit your needs. For example, straws, greens, and chicken manure are high in nitrogen, thus making compost with those ingredients will result in compost that is high in nitrogen.