Compost, anaerobic composting, aerobic composting, GVSU Campus Dining, Sustainable Agriculture Project, compost efficiency




Amy McFarland


This comprehensive review discusses the main microbial processes, methods, efficiency strategies, benefits, and drawbacks related to composting. Specifically, anaerobic, aerobic, and intermediate, or cold composting, decomposition processes are defined and assessed. This leads into a discussion of some common methods of composting, both large- and small-scale, which utilize these microbial processes to result in differing advantages and disadvantages. The efficiency of these methods can be increased using strategies that monitor oxygen levels, moisture levels, temperate levels, and overall size. Some benefits of composting discussed include diverting waste from landfills, improving soil nutrition and quality long-term, and increasing plant growth and yield. Some potential drawbacks of composting discussed include the possibility of containing hazardous heavy metals and high concentrations of salt, taking years to regenerate the nutrients in poor soils, and producing just as much methane gas as landfills at times. The discussion then turns to composting strategies currently used at Grand Valley State University both on campus and at the Sustainable Agriculture Project. After delving into the past and current strategies used at these locations, as well as strategies used by other universities, suggestions for improving the composting methods at Grand Valley State University were proposed. On campus, it would be beneficial to either buy back the finished compost product originally sent to composting facilities, or to introduce a small-scale composting method for educational purposes. At the Sustainable Agriculture Project, it would be beneficial to either improve the current compost pile, or introduce a smaller-scale underground closed composting bin.

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