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Basics of Composting Process through Bokashi Method

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee
Manure Compost
Manure Compost

It is well understood that composting is beneficial for fertility of a garden and also for the environment. But the awareness is lesser when it comes to the various methods of composting. Basically composting is a process by which organic materials are deliberately decomposed in a controlled manner so as to produce a material, useful in supplying the nutrients to the soil, or in other words – increases soil fertility. The materials produced through composting have a higher percentage of nitrogen, carbon, air and water.

There are various methods of composting and the Bokashi composting is different when compared with the other methods. The Bokashi process requires not more than 10 days to convert organic materials into useable material, and the material produced has the maximum nutrient value, when compared with any other method of composting. “Bokashi” is actually a Japanese word meaning "fermented organic matter”, and was developed in the early 1980s by Dr. Teuro Higa, a professor at the University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan.

THE BOKASHI PROCESS: This method involves layering vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy scraps, with a Bokashi inoculant in a special bucket. The inoculant usually consists of wheat germ, wheat bran, or sawdust combined with molasses and effective microorganisms.

The Bokashi bucket has an air-tight lid and a spigot at the bottom to drain off the liquid that is produced. The liquid must be drained off to prevent the bucket from developing a somewhat foul odor, but the liquid serves as a very nutritious "bokashi tea" that can be used to fertilize houseplants.

The daily kitchen waste is first added to the airtight drum for fermentation.  Maggots may be seen the next day around the rim. Then the Bokashi powder is added. It is ensured that the drum has a tap which can drain a small amount of the liquid generated from time to time. This liquid will smell like molasses, bran and vinegar. After day 17, there will be some white fungus grown in the drum showing the fermentation.

The white mould is a beneficial fungus which helps suppressing the pathogens. If white mould is observed, it would imply that the fermentation is going well. The kitchen waste is then collected in the Bokashi drum for a month. After this some of the drum's contents are mixed with semi-done compost and this mixture is then placed in a tub. A trench is then dug and the fermenting wet waste is then put and covered. After three weeks the black compost will be ready. 

Other traditional composting methods are mainly aerobic, requiring oxygen but Bokashi is an anaerobic process under which the materials are largely isolated from oxygen. The bucket should be opened only to add scraps. This process requires special equipment and materials, but it produces the byproducts in a very short time that are highly nutritious for plants, also serving as a “fuel” for other forms of composting.

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