Compost manure is not only cheaper than inorganic fertilisers, but it also improves soil productivity by providing nutrients, improving soil structure and increasing the water retention capacity of the soils.
A farmer can supplement inorganic fertiliser with compost. Compost is decayed organic material used as fertiliser. It is made using recycled garden and kitchen waste. Two methods can be employed to make compost, pile and pit methods.
In nine weeks the compost is ready for use. The preparation can be done throughout the year for continuous supply of compost manure.
Materials: Vegetative materials and farm waste such as maize stovers, soybean and bean stovers, finger millet, rice and sorghum straws. Other materials include sweet potato vines, dry and green grass, lantana, leaves and stems of crotolaria and mucuna, animal and poultry wastes or slurry/kitchen wastes.
How to make compost manure using pile method Dig a pit 45cm deep which could be either square or rectangular. Heap the soil on one side. Put four poles (2m long) in each corner of the pit. After setting up the pit, chop the materials in small pieces and put the first layer. Pile up to 45cm deep then add10 litres of water.
Add a second layer of dry vegetation of hedge cuttings to about 20cm thick and add water then put a third layer of animal or poultry waste or slurry, this provides microorganisms that are essential for decomposition. Also add ash as it contains essential minerals. You can then add the fourth layer (about 20cm thick), consisting of green materials from leguminous trees such as Calliandra, Leucaena and Tithonia.
Sprinkle topsoil up to 5cm thick. The soil contains bacteria, which helps in the decomposition. Repeat the placement of layers as in the steps above starting with dry vegetation, then animal or poultry wastes/slurry, ash, green vegetation and topsoil. Remember to add water with every layer.
The final pile should be 1.5-2m high at most with vertical sides and a flat top. To complete the pile, cover with a layer of 10cm thick of topsoil. This prevents nutrients from escaping from the compost pile. Finally cover the whole compost pile with dry vegetation like banana leaves to reduce moisture loss through evaporation.
Store compost by covering with polythene bags or banana leaves or under a roof. Compost can be stored for three to six months