Biomass wastes, particularly dry leaves can be a great fertiliser. The natural process of the degradation of dry leaves is a time consuming process, so generally they are disposed off by burning, which just adds to the air pollution.
During winters and in high altitude areas, people are often seen soaking in the warmth of bonfires made out of leaves, not realising that it impacts air quality. According to Ranveer Kumar Kamal, Environmentalist/ Biotechnologist, “There is an eco friendly alternative – composting of leaves. The need of the hour is to educate people to opt for composting and then use the end product as fertiliser.”
Burning leaves in the open generates harmful:
*Gases – CO (Carbon Monoxide) – Reacts directly with blood cells and reduces the level of Oxygen in the body.
*Chemicals (Hydrocarbons) – irritates the eyes, nose, throat & lungs, some of them are cancerous agents
Apart from being a health and fire hazard, it can also cause respiratory infections in humans and animals.
What can we do ?
Ranveer suggests the following procedure:
- Collect the dry /moist leaves
- Dry under sunlight for 2 – 3 days
- Fill it in a Container or HDPE bag
- Reduce the volume of leaves by Compressing, using stones or bricks
- Make a solution by dissolving 1 gm of Epsom salt in 1 litre Cow urine
- Once container is filled, sprinkle the above solution
- Cover the container & keep in sunlight
- Repeat the sprinkling the solution every 3 – 5 days
- Your leaf mould compost will be ready in less than 1 month.
Why Epsom salt + Cow urine ?
- Decomposed leaves contain very good amount of organic matter and negligible plant nutrients. Plants require all the 16 nutrients for the growth & development.
- Epsom salt acts as a soil conditioner, contains sulphur and magnesium those are important elements in formation of plant proteins and nutrients uptake from soil.
- Cow urine is overall charger for plant as well as soil, contains all the basic nutrients in trace amount. Organic acids help in the faster decomposition of organic matter into compost.
- Leaf mould itself will retain water in the soil, provide organic matter, giving space to soil microbes, temperature control etc. while epsom salt and cow urine give instant plant nutrients
- From seedling to maturity, it helps in adjusting soil pH and better nutrient uptake.
- Reduces volume of waste generation
- Eco – friendly approach
- Water conservation
- Weed control
- Increases soil organic matter level
- Increases microbial population in soil.
Also read: ClimateGard: First “No Kill” organic fertiliser