10 Steps in Compost Production – Farming Tips/Technoguides

Introduction   

10 Steps in Compost Production  To achieve self-sufficiency in rice, production must be pursued within a sustainable framework, one that meets the country’s current food demand and yet protects the environment. The use of organic fertilizers, such as compost, either alone or in combination with inorganic fertilizers, is one of the measures incorporated in the Agrikulturang MakaMASA program to promote sustainable crop production.

Past efforts to promote compost-making have been constrained, to a large extent, by the relatively low cost of chemical fertilizers. But even with the increased cost of fertilizers in recent years, few farmers adopted this technology because of the following reasons:

  •   • It takes a long time to produce
  •   • It takes large quantities of raw materials. 
  • • It is laborious.
  •   • Beneficial effects on the soil are not easily seen or felt.

But now, composting technology has considerably improved so that compost can be made in just 3-4  weeks! 

 

What is a Compost?

Compost is a mixture of decayed organic materials decomposed by microorganisms in a warm, moist,  and aerobic environment, releasing nutrients into readily available forms for plant use.

 

Why Use Compost?

  •   • There is a need for sustainable production through integrated nutrient management.
  •   • Compost produces less methane than uncomposted rice straw when incorporated in the soil.
  •    • It solves the problem of declining yield. 
  • • It corrects micronutrient problems such as zinc deficiency.      Benefits of Using Compost      
  •   • Big savings, increase farmers self reliance.
  •   • Increases yields. 
  • • Improves soil tilt and structure.
  •    • Increases water-holding capacity of the soil.
  •   • Improves aeration. 
  • • Provides humus or organic matter, vitamins, hormones, and plant enzymes which are not supplied by chemical fertilizers.
  •   • Acts as buffer to changes in soil pH.  
  • • Kills pathogenic organisms, weeds and other unwanted seeds when temperatures of over 60 o C is reached.
  •   • Mature compost quickly comes into equilibrium with the soil.
  •   • Different materials can be blended or mixed which can increase the nutrient content of the compost fertilizer    

Recommended Fertilizer Rate

  The Agrikulturang MakaMASA program recommends basal application of 6-8 bags inorganic fertilizer and 8 bags organic fertilizer per hectare. By composting all the rice straw after harvest, this requirement is adequately met, and one does not need to buy commercial organic fertilizer.

  •   • 5 tons  rice straw (0.58% N) and; 
  • • 2 tons compost (1.5%-3%N) Enriched with animal manure, nitrogen-rich farm residues such as legumes, and acted upon by microorganims like fungus Trichoderma sp. and nitrogen fixing bacteria, Azotobacter sp.  

3 ways of making compost 

Traditional Method  This is slow process, requiring 3-4 months before warm wastes are fully decomposed and ready for use  as compost fertilizer. This means that the fertilizer can only be used after one planting season. This also requires a bigger composting area. However, this method involves only eight steps, and it is inexpensive to produce, requiring no extensive inputs except labor.  

Rapid Method   With the aid of fungus activator Trichoderma harzianum, decomposition of farm wastes is accelerated  to just 3-4weeks! This means that the compost can be used in the next planting season. This involves ten steps. 

Bio-Enriched Method  Employing both a fungus activator and a nitrogen-fixing bacteria, farm wastes are first decomposed by  Trychoderma sp. for 2-3 weeks, after which the resulting compost is inculated with live N-fixing bacteria  Azobacter sp. inocubation for one week produces a nitrogen-enriched compost that can supply a rice crop’s total N requirement. Depending on the material used, soil condition, and planting season, this involves 10 steps.

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NOTE: For the Rapid and Bio-Enriched methods of composting, procedures in preparing these microorganism activators are available at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB), College, Laguna; and at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

 Simplified guide to compost production 

Most of the steps are common to the three methods of composting. Step 4 or the addition of  fungus activator, however, does not apply to the traditional method. Step 8 or the addition of bacteria inocula, on the other hand, applies only to the Bio-Enriched method of composting.  

Step 1. Gather Materials  Gather rice straw, weeds, sugarcane bagasse, corn stalks and stovers, leguminous materials such as  ipil-ipil, azolla sesbania, mungbean, cowpea, soybean crop residues, and animal manure. Soak rice straw for 6-12 hours before piling. Chop materials for easier decomposition.        2   10 Steps in Compost Production  Farming Tips/Technoguides   Ideal proportion of composting materials is 3 parts rice straw and 1 part mixture of animal manure (75%) and leguminous plant residues (25%). Less than this proportion prolongs the decomposition process. 

 Step 2. Prepare compost area  Choose a shaded and well-drained area.  To compost 5 tons of rice straw, we need a volume of 90 m 3 . A plot size of 2m x 6m 1.5 m can accommodate 1 ton of rice straw. Make 5 plots. If you want smaller plot size of 2m x 3m x 1.5m can accommodate 500 kg of rice straw materials. Make 10 small plots to be able to compost 5 tons rice straw.  

Step 3. Pile materials   Traditional Method  Make six layers of compost materials, each layer about 25 cm thick. A layer of compost material consists  of three parts rice straw, one part manure, soil, and ash or lime spread on top of each other.  Stack the layers until the compost heap reaches 1.5m high. Insert several perforated bamboo poles into  compost bed to serve as breathers.  

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)  To provide aeration at the bottom, construct a platform or use available materials such as coconut leaf  midribs, kakawate, banana trunk, and bamboo.  Make six layers of compost materials, each layer about 25 cm thick. A layer of compost material consists  of three parts rice straw, one part mixture of animal manure and leguminous materials, and a thin layer of fungus activator known as compost Fungal Activator (CFA). There is no need to put ash/lime or bamboo breathers.   Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azotobacter)  Mix all the rice straw, animal manure, and leguminous materials into 3:1 proportion.  Apply 2.5 kg of the fungus activator, know as BIO-QUICK to every tone of composting material. Spread  evenly on top of the first layer. Place 2-3 perforated bamboo poles horizontally across the first layer before adding the next layer. Make three layers.  

Step 4. Spread fungus activator  Spread evenly 5-10 kg of Trichoderma
fungus activator to every ton of composting material. 

Step 5. Water compost heap   Water each layer compost heap until it is sufficiently moist.

Step 6. Cover compost heap  Cover with plastic sheet, used sacks, banana and coconut leaves to increase temperature and prevent  too much water into the compost heap which could leach the nutrients.       3   10 Steps in Compost Production  Farming Tips/Technoguides  

Step 7. Turn compost heap   Traditional Method  Turn up side down or rotate, or mix compost heap after 3 weeks, then again after 5 weeks.

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)  Turn compost heap from top to bottom after 2 weeks. This step, however, is optional.  

Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azobacter )  Remove cover after 2-3 weeks or when the compost heap has decomposed. Separate undecomposed  materials for further composting.  

Step 8. Add bacteria inoculum  For every ton of compost material, spread evenly on top of each compost layer 2.5 kg of bacteria inocula,  known as BIO-FIX and incubate for 1 week. Cover the compost heap but do not allow to dry.  

Step 9. Harvest compost  

Traditional Method  Harvest 4 weeks after the second rotation of the compost heap. The N content of the compost is now 1.5%. Use 2 tons of compost per hectare.  

Rapid Method (Trichoderma)  Harvest 1-2 weeks after rotating the compost heap. The N content of the ripe compost varies from 1.0% -  3.0% depending on the amount of manure and nitrogenous plant materials used as substrates. Use all the compost produced in the field which could be about 2.0 tons per hectare. If commercial organic fertilizer produced through the rapid composting method is used, mix 8-10 bags per hectare.  

Bio-Enriched Method (Trichoderma and Azobacter)  After 1 week of incubation of the bacteria inocula, the compost is ready for use. N content of the compost  ranges from ranges from 1.5% to 3%. You need only apply 250-500 kg or 5-10 bags compost per hectare. Presence of live N-fixing bacteria in the compost will boost total N in the soil.  

There are currently 36 Mass Production Centers (MPC) for fungal activators and 17 Compost Production Centers (CPC) accredited by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to make these activators available to farmers. These centers include government, nongovernment organizations, and cooperatives. There are 15 similar agencies producing both fungal activators and ready-to-use compost. 

BIOTECH and IBS also provide training for cooperatives and entrepreneurs who wish to go into commercial organic fertilizer and mass production of these microorganisms.   Step 10. Apply compost  Broadcast compost as basal fertilizer before final harrowing during land preparation. 

10 Steps in Compost Production  Farming Tips/Technoguides   Health precautions 

1. The decomposing compost heap can generate heat up to 60 o C. Exercise care in handling the compost while rotating it. Wear protective gloves or foot gear so as not to scald your hands and feet. 

2. Composting materials and microorganisms may cause allergies, although they are nonpathogenic. To avoid inconvenience from itching, cover nose and mouth with mask, use long- sleeved clothes, and wash body and hand after working on the compost. 

Acknowledgement 

Dr. Virginia C. Cuevas of the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), University of the Philippines in Los  Banos (UPLB) for Developing the Compost Fungal Activator (CFA) technology . 

Dr. Bayani Espiritu of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH),  University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB), for developing the BIO-ENRICHED compost technology, employing the use of a fungal activator BIO-QUIK and an N-fixing bacteria inocula, BIO-FIX.  

Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Department of Agriculture.

This Bulletin was prepared at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) by Dr. Teodula M. Corton,  subject matter specialist , and Dr. Santiago R. Obien, technical adviser. Technology Synthesis and visualization by Roger F. Barroga, illustrations by Carlito Bibal, and layout by Carlo Dacumos.

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