Benefits of city compost mrs Almitra h patel, Member

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  • Mrs Almitra H Patel, Member

  • Supreme Court Committee for Solid Waste Management



  • 98443 02914


  • India has inherited a rich tradition of conservative use of resources.

  • Even today, villagers feed home waste to animals, compost the leftovers along with stable-wastes, and return nutrients and micro-nutrients to the land.

  • We should be proud of our light “footprint” on the earth and preserve these practices using modern methods.


  • We have no incentives to keep non-biodegradable plastics out of our compostable food waste.

  • Cities have no space and their managers have no understanding or interest in composting for the benefit of farmers.


  • All living things, plant and animal, need both Carbon & Nitrogen.

  • Our soils once had upto 4% carbon. Today it is as low as 0.2% and declining.

  • The Green Revolution was an initial success because Nitrogen in Urea helped plants use the rich Carbon stocks built up in Indian soils over thousands of years of sustainable agriculture.

Once soil Carbon was used up, urea alone could do little.

  • This was never explained to farmers, who stopped producing on-farm compost and relied on only chemical fertilisers.

  • Excessive urea subsidies have led to its unbalanced use. ONLY India of all SAARC countries persists with this dangerous populist subsidy policy, which fertiliser companies themselves must try to end.

  • Crop yields have actually declined over time.

20-yr Dryland Millet yields decline without Farm Yard Manure:

FYM alone improves yields but FYM + Chem Fert works best

  • This combination of organic manures like city compost and synthetic fertilisers is called I P N M or INTEGRATED PLANT NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT.

  • Many private field trials are proving its benefits in many crops, but we need intensive awareness and demonstrations. Fertiliser Companies should do this if Govt will not.

Paddy, 6 wks after transplanting. City compost used on left-side plot

Sona Masuri paddy benefited from compost use AT NO EXTRA COST:

  • With Mysore city compost Without compost

  • 0.5t city compost = Rs 1750 0

  • 15th day DAP 100 kg Rs 800 200 kg Rs 1600

  • 35th “ 19:19:19 100kg 800 200 kg 1600

  • 55th day urea 50 kg 230 100 kg 460

  • potash 75kg 350 150 kg 700

  • Total Cost = Rs 3,930 Rs 4,360

  • Bellary photo March 2004 Bellary and data from Vennar Organics.

  • City compost used from next year on 60 acres after this 1 acre trial.

Compost IMPROVES the action of Chemical Fertilisers

  • Only 20% to 50% of the N P K in Chemical Fertilisers goes up into the plants. The rest runs down into soil, rivers and lakes, polluting drinking-water supplies.

  • Humus-rich, microbe-rich compost acts like a SPONGE, holding the run-off nutrients till plants can absorb all of it. So Farmers can get full value for every rupee spent.

Do we have enough Organic Manure?

  • Today farm cattle have declined and farm-yard manure is kept for own use, not sale

  • In 2001, the Planning Commission had estimated a shortfall of 6 million tons a year of organic manures.

  • This 6 million tons can be produced today by composting the municipal waste of just 35 largest Indian cities

How good is City Compost?

  • For both farmyard manure and city compost,

  • their N P K content is not important, 1% each.

  • Their real value is their rich microbial content ! Soil bacteria convert inert N P K in soil and air to soluble forms which are useful for plant growth.

  • The heat of composting heaps kills weed seeds. So fields using city compost need less weeding time and cost than with FYM

City Compost offers many benefits that chemical fertilisers cannot:

  • Water-holding capacity of humus in compost is most important.

  • Farms using compost do not need 2nd or 3rd sowing if rains fail. Crops with compost need 4-5 waterings vs 6-7 without it.

  • For every 1% organic matter content, soil can hold 75,000 litres of plant-available water per acre of 1ft deep soil (ATTRA data).

Strong root systems = healthy plants

  • Compost use makes soil porous so roots are stronger. This strengthens the plant’s natural resistance to pests and decay.

  • Farmers using compost find they need far less pesticides, saving input costs with less environmental pollution.

  • SHELF LIFE IMPROVES! Fruit from compost-grown plants are larger, tastier, have better colour and shelf life and fetch better prices.

Healthy plants have many benefits

  • With city compost use : Tea yields and flavour improve.

  • Paddy: less plant death after transplanting, more seeds.

  • Papaya: 50% thicker trunks, fewer days between flowering, less fruit drop. Yield 63% more. Fruit 28% heavier, shiny.

  • Fig: Stronger stems, less disease, 30% more branches, 20% more fruit, 40% heavier with better colour & longer keeping quality.

  • Pomegranate : Ditto, with fruit size doubled. [all Vennar data]

  • We all need to compile photo-case-studies to convince farmers and promote IPNM for India’s food security and soil vitality.

Compost use restores fertility to water-logged and saline soils

  • India has 22 million hectares of alkaline and saline barren soils awaiting rescue.

  • Experiments at Kutch and by UP’s Bhoomi Sudhar Nigam have proved the benefits of using compost. Full yields are restored in 3 years to totally-barren soils.

  • Micro-nutrient deficient soils also benefit.

Co-Marketing of City Compost & Chemical Fertilisers is a must

  • The Supreme Court has approved this recommendation of an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on IPNM. Govt has asked all Fertiliser Co’s to co-market city compost.

  • Creative solutions are needed from all for its bulk storage, timely availability, affordability and ease of application.


  • City compost becomes more affordable to farmers when waste is received unmixed, requiring less sieving energy to remove plastics at the compost plant.

  • Every citizen, every one of you here, can help farmers, and reduce your own food prices, simply by keeping plastics out of other waste and donating it as kachra-daan to a ragpicker or kabadiwala.

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