A comparative study of the nutrient status of household waste composted using different starters

  • T Mubyana Department of Biological Sciences, University of Botswana, P/B 0022 Gaborone, Botswana.
  • L Korentajer Institute of Soil Climate and Water, Agricultural Research Council, P/B X79. Pretoria 0001, South Africa.


The influence of different compost starters on nutrient composition of household waste compost was evaluated under growth chamber conditions. Compost starters investigated were soil only, lime ammonium nitrate (LAN), poultry manure, and fungi only. Fungi used were species of Mucor, Trichoderma, Cephalosporium and Penicillium. Nutrient compost analyses at 4 and 8 weeks showed the household waste compost to be non acidic, and although the type of starter influenced the compost pH, this influence was non significant (p<0.05). At 4 weeks, compost pH varied between 7.5 to 8.38 with the fungal treatment averaging 7.5 ± 0.08. The manure starter compost had a significantly higher N (1.28%) than all the other starters. However, the fungal starter (0.96%) was significantly higher than the rest of the starters which yielded 0.41 and 0.50 % N, for soil and LAN, respectively. Similar results were obtained for water soluble sulphur, available phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Overall, at the end of the composting period, the fungal starter compost had a significantly higher organic matter content than the other composts (P < 0.05). These results indicate that selected fungal isolates when used as a starter can yield compost with high nutrient content comparable to manure compost in relation to N, P, S, and K. The fungal starter is superior over the N and soil as starters.

J. Trop. Microbiol Vol.1 2002: 54-63

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eISSN: 1607-4106