Keywords: agricultural waste, composting, organic waste recycling, waste management, vegetable waste, subtropical climates, United Arab Emirates, UAE, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, grass, moisture content, decomposition rate
Composting of vegetable waste in subtropical climates
This experiment examined the possibility of using composting as a method of waste disposal in subtropical countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where temperatures are high and humidity is low. In order to simulate conditions in the UAE, a representative mixture of wastes generated in the UAE was prepared and tested at ambient temperatures resembling those of subtropical countries. The mixture consisted of tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant and grass. The addition of grass (40% of the mixture by weight) adjusted the carbon/nitrogen ratio and the moisture content of the compost to the necessary level for initiating decomposition. To maintain the moisture content of the compost under severe dry hot weather, a saturated insoluble polymer (IP) was added at 20% and 60% concentration (wet weight). The mixture was then composted at three different temperatures. Results showed that the mixture requires about two weeks for stabilisation. High temperature is an advantage to the compost process; at temperatures between 40 and 60°C, the waste mixture (regardless of IP concentration) decomposed quicker than at low temperature (25°C). The addition of 20% saturated IP to the compost increases the moisture content and decomposition rate. It also increases the organic chemical content of the compost, which will be reflected by microbial activity.