Whether you’re new to composting or you’ve been doing it for a while, you might wonder what exactly is safe to compost. For example, can you use a compost pile to dispose of pet waste? Here’s how to safely add animal waste to your compost.
Benefits of Composting
Composting is a great habit for gardeners for many reasons. It enriches the soil by producing helpful bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter. It also helps reduce the usage of chemical fertilizers and reduces your carbon footprint. Also, it’s easy to do anywhere, from small home gardens to commercial farms.
Why Use Animal Waste?
Reducing the amount of waste put into landfills is always a good thing. Literal tons of animal waste end up in landfills every year, but the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that composting can reduce the volume of dog waste by 50 percent. Picking up dog waste on walks is a good start (leaving it can cause diseases to spread through ecosystems), but composting helps even more.
Risk of Composting Animal Waste
You can find bacteria, viruses, and parasites in animal waste, which is why you shouldn’t leave it on the ground when you walk your dog. If you don’t compost thoroughly, these pathogens could survive in your compost pile and harm you and your plants when you use the compost in your garden.
If you’re willing to put a little more time and effort into your composting, there’s no reason you can’t safely add animal waste to your compost. You’ll need to use either hot composting or vermicomposting to ensure the pathogens break down before using the soil.
To hot compost, you must combine “green” materials (lawn clippings, food scraps, and animal waste) with “brown” materials (dead leaves, shredded paper, and sawdust). Layer the materials and frequently turn the pile. This will cause the compost to heat up. To ensure safe compost, the pile needs to reach 145° for several days.
Vermicomposting involves using redworms, or red wigglers, to convert organic material into compost. The worms speed up the decomposition process and make the soil rich in nutrients.
There are plenty of items you shouldn’t put in compost, but animal waste isn’t one of them. Put a little more effort into the composting process, and you can make your pet waste recyclable.