From waste to compost

By Kangwa Nkonde

An initiative by Dr Willem van Niekerk, a senior lecturer in the North-West University’s (NWU’s) School of Mechanical Engineering, aims to assist the community in turning waste into compost.

This project demonstrates a practical and eco-friendly approach to composting. It uses readily available materials to create high-quality compost while reducing waste and carbon footprint. Dry leaves, discarded organic bedding material from laboratory rats, and pigeon manure are combined to achieve the proper carbon/nitrogen ratio for effective composting.

Dr Van Niekerk uses a Johnson-Su bioreactor compost maker which provides an efficient environment for microbial activity. This leads to the decomposition of organic matter and the generation of heat. The elevated temperatures reached during the composting process are beneficial, as they help eliminate weed seeds and pathogens.

Introducing earthworms at a later stage of composting further enhances the process by breaking down organic matter and producing nutrient-rich castings. The end result is a high-quality compost that can be used to enrich soil and promote plant growth, and this compost has been put to use to fertilise the NWU botanical gardens.

“This approach not only diverts organic waste from dumpsites, but also reduces the overall carbon footprint by recycling organic matter into a valuable resource. Promoting sustainable practices like composting can contribute to environmental conservation and create healthier ecosystems,” says Dr Van Niekerk.




Submitted on Wed, 04/03/2024 - 07:54