Composting for disease-control
Soap, hand sanitiser, face masks, ... compost? With the ongoing corona crisis, people are looking for and learning about all the different disease control methods out there. As we’ve now done several times, we’d like to put forward compost and how amazing it is.
Full disclaimer: The coronavirus can’t survive over three days without a host so once it’s in a bin, it’s done for. Composting as a means of disease control is fantastic for pathogens that don’t have this sort of lifespan, such as E. coli and salmonella.
You still need to keep self-isolated and safe, no matter how much you're composting.
It may seem like we’re reaching a little bit but hear us out. Just one word sums up exactly how cure-all composting can contribute to disease control - temperature.
The weak spot of almost every pathogen, viruses, bacteria and microorganisms alike, is heat and as any long-time composter knows, a good pile has more than enough of it. At the peak of its decomposition, compost turns into a little (or big) organic oven, with the microbial activity turning up the temperature dial. Compost is most effective at an absolute maximum of 75˚C but some piles can reach over 100˚C!*
*Do not let this happen. Compost can spontaneously combust.
And at what temperature are a majority of pathogens killed? 60˚C.
Obviously that means no weed seeds or pathogens and your garden is a disease-controlled safe haven but it also offers an amazing opportunity to limit the global spread of dangerous diseases. These diseases aren’t the coronavirus airborne type, they’re the “human organic waste” type, which take the lives of millions every year. Composting human waste stops these diseases spreading in their tracks.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. Certain pathogens, including Hepatitis A, are incredibly resistant to heat and various studies show them only deactivating after around 10 days of consistently high temperatures.
There are actually cases of people dying from exposure to contaminated compost. Yes. You read that correctly. All from store-bought compost, there are some commercial composters who don’t take the proper measures to ensure an entire pile has reached sufficient temperatures to be fully safe.
This emphasises the importance of diligent compost management, particularly for human waste. Knowing what goes in and how hot it gets are absolutely critical for compost as a method of disease control.
That’s where we come in.
Among countless other metrics, our Monty monitoring device continuously tracks temperature to ensure that any pathogens in your pile are fully destroyed so you and your garden are safe. If you’re a long time gardener or just getting out now while under home lockdown, check out here where we’re at and when you can start disease controlling your compost!