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ISSN: 2155-6199
Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation

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Implementation of Bulking Agents in Composting: A Review

Manish Batham*, Richa Gupta and Archana Tiwari
School of Biotechnology, Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki Vishwavidhyalaya (State Technological University), Airport Bypass Road, Bhopal–462033, Madhya Pradesh, India
Corresponding Author : Manish Batham
School of Biotechnology
Rajiv Gandhi Proudyogiki Vishwavidhyalaya (State Technological University)
Airport Bypass Road
Bhopal–462033, India
Tel: +919752953706
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Received July 16, 2013; Accepted September 06, 2013; Published September 12, 2013
Citation: Batham M, Gupta R, Tiwari A (2013) Implementation of Bulking Agents in Composting: A Review. J Bioremed Biodeg 4:205. doi:10.4172/2155-6199.1000205
Copyright: © 2013 Batham M, et al. This is an open-a ccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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For many centuries bulking agents in composting has been used for better and improved compost production. In recent years bulking agents or bulking particles received much attention because of efficiency and usefulness in composting, pollution control and economically sound. The industrial and agricultural waste management problem is increasing very fast and composting using bulking agents can make more effective solution for this problem. This paper reviews information on the use of bulking agents in composting and addressing the efficiency and environmental concerns of composting. Different bulking agents and usefulness and efficiency in composting are also presented.

Composting; Bulking Agents; Carbon to Nitrogen ratio
The aerobic composting is the process of decomposition of organic substrates in presence of oxygen [1]. The composting process may be more effective when the carbon-to nitrogen ratio and the moisture content will specific according to material of compost [1,2]. For maintaining the moisture and carbon-to nitrogen ratio the bulking agents play a very important role in the composting. The bulking agents also called the bulking particles are the very effective to control the air supply, moisture and other important composting parameters [3]. There are different types of bulking agents used in the composting such as wood chips, saw dust, grass hay, wheat straw, corn stalks, grass clippings, rabbit manure, fruit and vegetable waste, garden trimmings, horse manure, deciduous leaves, cow dung, etc [3,4].
These bulking agents are use in the composting process according to need of the compost, such as nutritive value, moisture, pH and air supply to compost material. Different bulking agents used in different composting process such as food waste composting, vermicomposting, composting of industrial waste, agricultural waste composting and composting of weeds, etc [5-7]. It has been shown in a study that the bulking agents like rice husk, sawdust and rice bran increased the degradation and resulted a very good quality compost of food waste [1]. In another study it has been shown that in vermicomposting of municipal sewage sludge use of sugarcane trash as bulking agent resulted the high quality vermistabilization and better nutritive values [8]. The use of bulking agents in composting process is very useful and efficient for producing good quality, time efficient and cost effective compost. There are several examples of effectiveness of bulking agents in composting as increased nutritive value, fast degradation of materials which makes bulking agent a very useful composting material. For the better results of composting the bulking agents should be used in a specific concentration with compost material [1]. The use of lowmoisture bulking agents such as straw, sawdust, peat, peanut shells, rice hull etc are very useful in the composting of wet materials like pig manure [9].
The bulking agents used in composting plays a very important role to control the problem of the moisture content for the proper composting and bulking agents also controls the problem of odour by maintaining the moisture in composting [10]. This paper reviews the use of bulking agents or bulking particles used in the composting process to increase the biodegradation of materials and reduce the composting time as well as improved nutritive values of compost.
Applications of Bulking Agents
Bulking agents are supplemented in the composting process different purposes like energy source for microbes, appropriate air movement through the pile by increasing porosity, good absorption and to enhance the degradation of composting materials. Following columns throw light on the same.
In composting of water hyacinth
Water hyacinth is an aquatic weed which creates many problems in water bodies. Composting is most efficient idea to control and utilize this weed as a compost [11]. In the composting of water hyacinth bulking agents like cow dung and sawdust are very useful to control the C/N ratio and moisture content [12,13]. In different studies of water hyacinth composting different bulking agents have been used and increased the quality of the compost and resulted time & cost efficient composting of water hyacinth weed [11]. By the use of bulking agents different parameters can be maintain in the composting of water hyacinth such as pH, moisture, temperature, carbon content and nitrogen content etc. By these examples we can conclude the use of bulking agents in the composting of water hyacinth is very useful and beneficial for the composting process and it can also an efficient for composting time duration and quality of final product.
In composting of food waste
The composting of food waste is very important composting process because food waste is a problem creating waste such as odour problem and pollution [3]. The composting is a suitable way to utilize the food waste as compost and also the solution of odour and pollution problem. Numerous bulking agents including sawdust, rice bran, rice husk, wood shavings and peanut shells are used in the food waste composting for adjusting the moisture content, nitrogen content, C/N ratio and aeration in the compost materials [1]. These bulking agents help in the better biodegradation of waste and convert it to useful compost [14].
Composting is an effective process to overcome the problem of food waste odour and the pollution. Bulking agents play an important role in this process to achieve the goal of good compost. By these bulking agents can be considered as an important material for composting.
In composting of industrial waste
The composting of industrial waste is very effective and beneficial method of management of industrial waste. By the composting of industrial waste the waste material can be converted into useful compost as well as control the pollution problem [7,15]. The bulking agents used in industrial waste composting are cotton waste, maize straw, sawdust, cow dung, grass trimmings etc. these bulking agents helps in composting process for maintaining moisture, temperature, C/N ratio and many other parameters of composting [6,7]. In a study it is proved that the use of cotton waste and maize straw increased the nutritive values of olive-mill waste water sludge composting [7]. Huge amount of different industrial waste is available in the industries which can be utilize as a compost and the bulking agents can make this compost more effective for use. So it is proved that the bulking agents are very important in the composting of industrial wastes also. The bulking agents are using now days in all composting process such as industrial waste composting, agricultural waste composting and food waste composting etc. so the bulking agents should be considered as an essential material for composting.
Some Common Bulking Agents
There are many bulking agents are used in the composting for achieving the high quality compost. These bulking agents have different functions in the composting process so these uses as the requirement or need. Some of these bulking agents are discussed as below:
Sawdust is a very common bulking agent used in composting. Sawdust or wood dust is a by-product of cutting, grinding, drilling, sanding, or otherwise pulverizing wood with a saw or other tool; it is composed of fine particles of wood. It use for composting as a bulking agent which provide the free air space, moisture control and maintain the carbon to nitrogen ratio [3]. The sawdust is easily available bulking agent. In the composting of water hyacinth, sawdust is a suitable bulking agent which helps in biodegradation of water hyacinth [13].
Cow dung
Cow dung is an important bulking agent in the composting and vermicomposting. It is easily available in a huge amount in many countries. Basically cow dung is waste product of bovine species including cow, buffalo, yak etc. it is cheap and cost effective bulking agent. In the composting of industrial waste, food waste and other cow dung helps in composting to get good carbon to nitrogen ratio [12,16]. The cow dung is very effective in many organic waste composting and vermicomposting as sludge, water hyacinth and food waste composting because it can control the moisture, bulk density, carbon content and C/N ratio in the compost [12,17].
Bulking agents in vermicomposting
Vermicomposting is process of biodegradation of organic material with the help of earthworms. For vermicomposting bulking agents are very important for provide bulk density, moisture control, pH, and C/N ratio. In the vermicomposting cow dung, poultry waste, sawdust, rice husk and sugarcane trash etc are use as a bulking agent [12,16,18]. In vermicomposting process the aeration is very important for earthworms and the other parameters like pH, temperature and moisture content is maintained by these bulking agents (Table 1).
Important Functions of Bulking Agents
There are many important functions of bulking agents in the composting of different organic waste. These are controlling the pH, moisture, bulk density, carbon to nitrogen ratio, and aeration etc. some of these discussed following one by one.
The pH is a very important factor in composting and vermicomposting. It can increase and decrease the rate of biodegradation. Composting is a biological process of microbial activities and microbes survives at specific pH. Bulking agents like sawdust, cow dung and rice husk etc can control the pH value of composting [1,3,13]. For the better biodegradation of composting materials the pH value should not very basic and very acidic it should be between the range of 6-8 [1,4,19]. In different studies it is reported that bulking agents in composting are responsible for maintain the pH value at optimum range [1,7].
Moisture is also a very important parameter of composting it can maintain the rate of biodegradation of materials. The moisture content in access amount can be negative for composting process. Bulking agents like sawdust, rice husk, cotton waste and maize straw can control the moisture content of composting materials [3,7,20]. When the moisture content between 55% to 65% the composting will more effective [1].
Bulk density
The bulk density of composting material plays an important role in the composting. According to bulk density biodegradation may be slow or fast. Different bulking agents such as sawdust, cow dung, straw, etc are use in composting for provide the specific bulk density to compost material [3,21].
C/N ratio
Carbon to nitrogen ratio of compost is the ratio between carbon and nitrogen content in compost. it is an most important parameter of composting because it indicate about the compost quality. The composting may be more effective when C/N ratio between 30 to 40 [1]. Some studies have shown that C/N ratio at lower than 20 is also effective [2,22]. To control and maintain the C/N ration in the compost different bulking agents such as sawdust, rice husk, rice bran, cow dung, poultry waste etc are used [1,3,12,23].
Aeration or air supply is the major factor in the composting rate. It can highly affect the composting process and rate [1]. Air supply should be proper in the compost materials for better and fast biodegradation of materials [23]. To control the aeration and make free air space in the composting materials different bulking agents such as sawdust, rice bran, rice husk, cotton waste, maize straw, peanut shells etc are used in composting [1,9,13] (Table 2).
There is limited information on bulking agents even they are very effective in composting. Available information on bulking agents in composting indicates that bulking agents are very effective and efficient for composting. Bulking agents can reduce the cost, labor, time duration, and increase the compost quality and nutritive values. Some bulking agents like sawdust, cow dung and rice husk are able to maintain the C/N ratio which is most important parameter of compost. Sawdust, cow dung, rice husk, cotton waste and rice bran are the most effective and available bulking agent in composting and it is used in many studies of composting. Use of these bulking agents may be very efficient and beneficial for compost producers. Available bulking agents’ information is attractive, but much research is needed for more easily available and more economic bulking agents.

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