6 Fun (And Weird) Facts About Composting

Monday, September 20th, 2021
Scarab compost turner about to turn a compost windrow

The composting industry isn’t known for being fun. Compost is an item that isn’t pretty to make but has wonderful benefits for individuals and businesses alike. Here are some fun and odd facts about compost that may help you look at this product a little differently.

1. George Washington loved compost

President Washington had a specific appreciation for soil quality and even spoke out about the practice of tobacco cultivation, which ruined the fertility of the land. He cared so much about the health of the soil that he performed experiments to find the best way to turn dung into fertilizer. The president also developed a stercorary (dung repository) to store his material.

Washington wasn’t the only president with an interest in fertilizer. Thomas Jefferson was known to use semi-decomposed and rotting manure for his soil. He wrote about using a crop rotation schedule along with composting to help maintain the health of the land. James Maidson joined his presidential peers in expressing the belief that adding manure or vegetable matter could bring the soil back to healthy levels.

2. A bird uses compost

The Australian brush-turkey uses a shared compost pile to incubate multiple eggs. It will gather decaying materials within its environment and create a mound. The heat that is formed during the composting process allows this species to take care of more eggs than it ever could alone.

Like humans, the turkey must check on the temperature of the pile to make sure it is not too cold or too hot. It does this using its beak and will remove or add material as needed. These nests aren’t always small, reaching up to 15, 432 pounds!

3. Composting started thousands of years ago

Composting appears to be extremely modern with its large equipment and high-tech monitoring. There is archeological evidence that the process dates back to the Neolithic age 12,000 years ago. Unlike fertilizer today, the neolithic people would create piles right on the growing area and spread it using light plows called ards.

In 50 BC, Cleopatra declared earthworms sacred, making their removal from Egypt a serious crime. She understands their skill and value in the composting process. Worms can get rid of harmful bacteria like e-coli and also provide nutrients to the compost mixture.

4. You can compost explosives

TNT is an explosive made with nitrogen, carbon, and other natural elements. This means that with the right process and mixture, you could compost this material. The U.S. Army has done this, saving millions of dollars and reducing harm to the environment.

5. Compost heats up FAST

The way compost heats up is amazing, reaching 75 degrees in just a few days! This can be a good thing, but also a bad thing. If the compost gets too hot, it can turn to ash and kill the good bacteria in the mixture. That heat can also cook food! Some chefs are experimenting with (very well-wrapped) food, finding that fish cooks correctly after a few hours when placed inside a pile.

6. Compost can help capture carbon

Capturing carbon that is caused as a result of human activity is one way to reduce our impact on this earth. There are many high-tech methods for doing this. But, composting has proven to be an affordable and simpler way of achieving the same goal. Carbon sinking is one example of this.

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