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Why is Oxygen so important to composting?

After over a 1,000 oxygen monitorings, Mother Nature's Farm, Inc. published their findings on their web site at http://www.magicsoil.com. The following are excerpts from that published information assembled here for brevity. While their study used a forced air system, it clearly demonstrates how critical oxygen is to effective composting. To view the full article(s), please visit their web site.


"The most effective microbes for converting organic residuals (wastes) to premium top soil and soil conditioners are aerobic microbes. "Aerobic" means they work in the presence of oxygen, that they consume oxygen. In the absence of oxygen the entire chemistry changes and foul odors and phyto-toxic VFA's can be produced. All fungi are strict aerobes.

Preventing Foul Odors:

Preventing Foul Odors seems to be simply a matter of maintaining Aerobic conditions. Some compost feed stocks are by nature great hosts for micro-organisms that consume a lot of oxygen. When the micro-organisms consume all the available oxygen then the process goes Anaerobic and foul odors are a common result.

Our own research has shown beyond any doubt that the microbes can exhaust the oxygen in a large compost pile in 15 minutes or less. This research was done on a pile that had been on forced aeration. The oxygen probe was inserted about 36" into the pile from the top. The forced aeration was turned off as soon as the first oxygen sample was pulled from the pile.

compost bins


The easiest way to prevent foul odors is to maintain aerobic condition throughout the entire composting mass. Many of the chemical byproducts of Anaerobic conditions are foul odor gases. Thus the key to preventing foul odors and VFA's is to maintain oxygen levels greater than 15% throughout the composting mass.

compost bins


The key to preventing the foul odor gases from being produced in the first place is to maintain aeratobic conditions, providing the oxygen essential to good neighbor composting. Equally or even more important to us is that anaerobic byproducts are often phyto-toxic, toxic to plant growth.

Most of the information on the above chart is from THE PRACTICAL HANDBOOK OF COMPOST ENGINEERING by Roger Haug."


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