Turn Your Kitchen Waste Into Manure
It is common knowledge that plants require special nutrients to produce high yields. Nevertheless, some Kenyan farmers do not get expected yields because they cannot afford the fertilizers needed to replenish their nutrient-depleted soils. In some cases, low yields are as a result of using much lower proportion of the recommended fertilizer quantities.
However, there could be a solution to this challenge. Farmers could make their own organic fertilizer in form of compost, using rotten plant and animal waste. This fertilizer helps boost soil fertility and increase crop production.
Why you should consider making your own compost
- It is easy to make since it is derived from readily available materials such as kitchen and household waste, crop residues, hedge cuttings.
- Nutrients are immediately available since the plant absorbs them directly without the need for further breakdown.
- Using compost on your crops increases water holding capacity of the soil supporting crops adequately.
- It helps in release of nutrients gradually, enabling the following year’s crop to benefit from their presence unlike the inorganic fertilizer that lasts only a season.
- Use of compost increases the soil organic matter content that is good for crops while reducing environmental pollution associated with inorganic fertilizers.
Sustainable Development Empowerment Programme (COSDEP) offer training on how to make
compost at home.
Step by step procedure of preparing compost:
Effective composting occurs when you create conditions that support the growth of tiny living creatures in the soil called micro-organisms. These microscopic bacteria and fungi are needed to breakdown the plant and animal waste material.
During the process of breaking down the plant and animal waste, heat is produced causing the waste materials to decompose and release nutrients in forms that can be used by crops.
- Dig a shallow trench or a compost pit on a space of 2.5m long by 2m wide for the heap and a similar portion to turn the material. The more the material available, the more space one requires. This becomes the foundation of the compost heap.
- Smear the sides of the trench with water or a mixture of water and cow dung to prevent moisture and nutrients from leaking from the compost heap.
- Go through your kitchen waste to separate vegetables, fruit peelings, over-ripened fruits, egg shells and other food remnants from the waste. You will use this in your compost.
- Build the compost pile by beginning with a bottom layer of bigger sized materials such as maize stalks or sorghum stalks. Cut the plant material into small pieces. Spread the dry material evenly over the bottom of the trench to make a layer of about 15-25cm.
- Make another layer of moist (green) material using your kitchen waste. Here you use vegetables, fruit peelings, over-ripened fruits, egg shells and other food remnants.
- Add other organic materials to your compost. This could be animal manure collected from fresh or dried cow dung, chicken waste, donkey manure and sheep or goat droppings. You can also add wood ash to the compost to help speed up the composting process.
- Add another layer of dry vegetation, hedge cuttings or grass.
- Cover the top of compost pit with wide banana leaves or plastic polyethylene sheets.
- Leave to decompose for three to four months, after which the compost is ready for use.
- After 3 weeks, you can open up the compost heap mixing all the layers while sprinkling water to make it moist but not wet.
- A mature compost heap is about half the size of the original heap. Check to ensure the compost has a dark brown color or black soil, which has a nice smell. All the original material should not be seen if the decomposition process went on well.