Composting has come a long way since the days of Sir Albert Howard and the Indore experiments. Once an arcane, if faintly suspect, practice of organic farmers and gardeners, composting has evolved to a full-fledged science with built-in engineering controls that make the composting process predictable and much more efficient. Material properties like carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio), bulk density, moisture, and porosity influence microbial decomposition of waste material in compost. Knowledge of the optimal conditions for organic decomposition ensures efficient bioconversion of waste products so that they can be beneficially and safely used as fertilizers and soil conditioners.

The Improved Composting Production and Technology Project (BAN320) was initiated in Bangladesh under The John Ogonowski-Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program jointly administered by USAID and Winrock International. This Project aimed to (1) provide training in improved compost preparation in Bangladesh; (2) build capacity for composting as an environmentally sound method of converting agro- and municipal solid waste into useful products; and (3) increase awareness of the role of organic matter in sustaining soil productivity.

The Project’s primary in-country host was Bismillah Fish and Poultry Farm (BFP), an integrated agro-based enterprise comprising fish and prawn culture, 20,000 poultry layers with capacity for up to 40,000 birds, cow fattening and milking, and vegetable growing. Local traditional methods are used for composting poultry manure, cow dung, and other waste, which largely remains unused due to a lack of better knowledge. BFP also wants to increase composting capacity by using different types of locally available raw materials (cow dung, water hyacinth, farm by-products, etc.) and marketing their excess compost fertilizer. The compost will be used as a fertilizer and soil conditioner for vegetables and other agricultural crops in the Khulna region.