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What is Compost? Compost Explained

by Idris Ya'u
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

Compost is simply an organic material that can be applied to soil to aid in plants’ growth. Not only that, it enables the soil to retain nutrients, air, water, protects against drought, helps the soil build a good structure, protects the plants from pests and diseases amongst other benefits.

1) Difference between Soil and Compost

Soil and compost are similar but still, quite different from each other. Compost is known to be made up of organic material while in the case of soil, it is made up of elements that are not organic such as minerals or rock particles.

Also, compost is known to be made by humans which isn’t the same with soil. Soil refers to the top layer of the earth’s crust which is natural and not man-made. Compost is a material that is mixed into the naturally occurring soil in gardens and used as a soil amendment to help in increasing the nutrition available for plants.

2) What is Compost Manure?

Compost manure is compost containing animal wastes such as cow dung which are allowed to decompose and applied to the soil for plants’ growth and development as well as soil improvement.

They are beneficial to the crops and help in increasing the organic matter present in the soil which in turn releases the plant food is available from the use of crops. With compost manure, the water holding capacity of soil is improved as well as the drainage in clay soils.

Compost manure also provides organic acids which aid in dissolving soil nutrients and make these nutrients available for plants. There are different ways of making compost manure which include: pot composting, vermicomposting, the Bokashi method, and the eggshells manure.

3) What is Compost used for?

Compost is used for so many reasons some of which are listed below. Compost is used for:

Retaining water and nutrients of sandy soil. Loosening tightly bound particles in clay or silt soil so that the roots can spread, water gets drained, and for the penetration of air.

Altering soil structure, thus, making it less likely to erode, and preventing soil spattering on plants which is a contribution to preventing the spread of plant disease. Bring and feed diverse life in the soil and support healthy plant growth.

Increasing soil’s ability to retain water decreases runoff and reduces or eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizers. Holding of nutrients tight enough to prevent them from washing out, however, loosely enough so plants can take them up as required.

4) Types of Composting

There are three main types of composting which are:

A) Aerobic Composting: This type of composting requires air to help break down the materials faster. In aerobic composting, there is a need to turn the compost every few days.

Add scraps and also, add plenty of green matter which contains a high amount of nitrogen such as grass clippings. The temperature of the compost increases as the bacteria break down the high nitrogen content scraps.

Also, moisture is required to prevent/reduce offensive odor. Also, lots of air space in the composted will be required.

B) Anaerobic Composting: This is basically the opposite of aerobic composting. Here, little effort is required. Chuck scraps into a composter or compost pile and doesn’t fuss with it for like a year or more than that.

However, it can be very stinky. The process of anaerobic composting is similar to that of landfills where there is no oxygen, release of methane, and is quite unhealthy.

C) Vermicomposting: This type of composting uses worms, oxygen, and moisture to break down organic material safely. It has very little amount of odor. This type of composting also has very little anaerobic bacteria or methane that can be practiced indoors or outdoors requires little time to be ready, and doesn’t require frequent turning.

5) Is Compost a Manure or a Fertilizer?

It is neither both and it is also both. This is because it contains the properties of both as compost is known to have fertilizer value and also synthetic manure which is basically a mass of rotted organic matter produced from waste-plant residues.

In short, compost can be described as an organic fertilizer that can be made on the farm and at a very low cost.

6) How to Compost at Home

Composting at home could be backyard composting or indoor composting:

A) Backyard composting:

  1. Choose a dry, shady soot which can be close to a water source for your compost pile or bin
  2. Add your brown and green materials and ensuring that they are chopped or shredded before adding them
  3. Dry materials should be moistened as they are added
  4. Once your compost pile is ready, mix grass clippings and green waste into the like and bury vegetable and fruit waste under ten inches of compost material

B) Indoor Composting

In the absence of a space for an outdoor compost pile, this can be suitable. Here, you can purchase and use a compost bin to carry out the process.

Ensure to tend your pile and keep track of whatever is thrown in. Also, manage the compost bin properly so as not to attract pests or rodents and to prevent offensive smell. Compost should be ready in about 2 – 5 weeks.

7) Benefits of Compost for Plants

Compost helps to increase water retention in roots systems of plants, leading to the vital growth of such plants. Also, compost helps to balance soil density thereby helping in plant growth.

The fact that compost helps in loosening soil that is too tight and clumping together soil that is too loose cannot be overlooked. The balancing enables plants to develop healthier roots into the soil which contributes to their healthier growth.


Compost, which can be described as decayed organic material which is used as fertilizer for plants can be used in different ways and provides various benefits to plants when incorporated into the soil. It is highly significant in gardening and agriculture.

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