January 17, 2011

Heating Up in the Compost Pile

By Eric D'Aleo

The temperature’s dropping and it seems like nature is taking a rest for the season. Well, not completely. Believe it or not, the daily temperatures in the Science Center’s compost piles are actually quite warm. Depending on the stage of decomposition of materials in the pile the temperature may reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the dead of winter. Doesn’t that sound nice? Well, it does if you’re thermophilic bacteria that thrives in these warm temperatures inside the pile and begins the process of breaking down animal waste, bedding, food scraps, and coffee grounds into compost. Once the bacteria finish, the temperature will drop and other organisms that prefer cooler temperatures will move in to continue the job of decomposition. But, for right now, things are still heating up inside the compost pile. For those of you that are curious it takes between 8 to 10 months for the compost piles to be converted into usable compost.

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