Composting is a useful technique for lowering pathogen levels in a range of organic materials, such as manure, yard waste, and biosolids (sewage sludge). When these materials are first created,
they contain viruses that could infect humans when they are “raw” or have not been composted. Interest is focused on bacteria, protozoa, viruses, fungus, and helminths as pathogens (parasitic worms).
Beneficial bacteria populations increase while pathogen concentrations significantly decrease during the composting process.
Pathogens are organisms that can infect and wreak harm to their hosts. Microbes, plants, animals, people, cattle, and other living things can all serve as hosts.
In general, infections have evolved to develop and procreate within a single species, such as humans or palm trees, while closely related species may exchange pathogens under certain circumstances.
Therefore, when the source and host organisms are members of the same species, the risk of infection is greatest.
Compost Temperature That Kill Pathogens
For at least three days, the temperature of the compost must be kept above 55°C (131°F) to sterilize the bacteria. Both sterilization and decomposition take place at high temperatures.
For three days, producers that use an in-vessel or static aerated pile system must keep the composting materials between 131 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures should be kept under observation, and compost moisture and aeration should be preserved to continue the biological activity and put the active period to an end.
Temperatures will drop, oxygen consumption will decrease, and biological activity will become less intense when the compost has used up its most easily decomposable organic material.
The compost next moves into the curing phase, where decomposition slows down and organic matter is transformed into stable humic acid.
The compost subsequently moves into the curing phase, where decomposition slows down and organic matter is transformed into humic compounds that are stable—the finished or mature compost.
In addition, many microorganisms that are plant or human diseases are destroyed at temperatures of 55°C and above. Compost managers utilize aeration and mixing to maintain temperatures below 65°C, which kills many types of bacteria and slows the rate of decomposition.
High temperatures speed up the breakdown of proteins, lipids, and complex carbohydrates like cellulose and hemicellulose, which are the primary structural components in plants, during the thermophilic phase.
Does Compost Kill Pathogens?
Manure, yard waste, and biosolids pathogen concentrations can be effectively reduced through composting.
Pathogens are killed by the high compost temperatures, and compost’s helpful bacteria work to stop pathogens from naturally colonizing the pile again.
What Is A Good Temperature?
Additionally, in the thermophilic temperature range, the breakdown happens more quickly. The ideal range of temperatures is between 135° and 160° Fahrenheit.
It is not advisable to have temperatures over this for prolonged periods because few thermophilic organisms actively carry out breakdown above 160° F.
What Temperature Is Considered Adequate For Achieving Sterilization Of A Compost Pile?
For at least three days, the temperature of the compost must be kept above 55°C (131°F) to sterilize weed seeds, larvae, and human infections.