Composting has been shown to be a highly effective treatment system for sewage sludges, night soil, animal wastes, fermentation wastes and a range of industrial organic wastes. The system produces a hygienic and highly acceptable end product with potential for use in agriculture, horticulture, land reclamation, or even for more acceptable landfill material. Composting has the advantage over other treatment systems in that it results in a highly stabilised end-product which can be conveniently stored until needed. The process also allows for the incorporation of a wide range of organic materials, which when incorporated fresh into soil may exhibit phytotoxic properties or immobilise plant nutrients. These advantages taken together with the increasing concern over waste pollution and control suggest that composting will have a part to play in the recycling of organic wastes in an environmentally sound and acceptable manner. The concern now being directed towards the protection of the world’s wetlands also suggest that peat extraction in the future may become severely restricted thereby allowing alternative compost products to become more heavily sought. An understanding, therefore, of how compost is produced, and the parameters controlling the process together with knowledge of compost utilisation and its behaviour in soil become ever more critical.
J Lopez-Real, Wye College, University of london, Wye, Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH, UK.
26 pages, 5 figures, 7 tables, 37 references