Impact of stage of maturity on quality of compost from Mukono municipal solid waste compost plant in central Uganda.
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Municipal Solid waste management is becoming a critical problem in most of the cities of the world as waste continues to increase, which leads to increased environmental risks and loss of resources. For this reason, Municipal solid waste management is gaining importance all over the developed and the developing nations. Efficient management of Municipal Solid Waste impacts positively on the environment and plays a vital role in the improvement of human health and quality of life. A number of technologies have been explored for effective solid waste management and composting has proved to be a safe and effective way to reduce municipal solid waste in large quantities and produce a stable humus-like material, beneficially re-used as a soil amendment and fertilizer. As an alternate soil amendment, MSW compost is gaining high popularity. This makes up for the effective disposal of solid waste through the recycling of potential resource for soil amendment. The main objective of this research was to assess the quality of compost from Mukono Municipal Compost Plant (MMCP) in Central Uganda and its compliance to the national and international standards for good quality compost. Compost samples were collected by picking five samples from randomly selected positions from windrow one to windrow six making a total of thirty composite samples that were brought to soil laboratory at Makerere University for analysis. The impact of stage of maturity on compost quality in terms of nutrient content at different stages was tested. The fertility Index (FI) of compost was also analyzed and compost was graded in accordance to its fertilizing value. Compost parameters such as pH (9.82-10.286) and Total Nitrogen (2.80-3.41) % were found within the acceptable limits set by international standards for high quality compost, an indication that it can be used as a liming material due to the high pH and source of nitrogen due to the high nitrogen content. While EC (6.75-9.30) ds/m was above the recommended standards (2-6) ds/m and %OC (4.12-4.98) far below the acceptable limits (>12) % set by both national and international standards. The % OC can be improved by sorting of wastes rich in carbon and addition of inoculating agents such as cow dung and poultry manure in composting materials. The compost had a textural class of sandy loam with high sand content (69.20-72.40) % thus detoriation of compost quality. The possible sources of the high sand content throughout the composting process should be investigated and mechanisms should be put in place in place to minimize sand content in the compost. The Fertility Index (FI) of final compost was low (2.9), indicating that the class of the compost was RU-1. This implies that MSW compost produced at MMCP is unacceptable to be put on market as a fertilizer, however, it can be used as a soil conditioner or to develop lawns/gardens. The fertility and quality of compost from MMCP can be improved by addition of inoculating agents for nutrient enrichment and source separation/sorting of biodegradable from non-biodegradable solid wastes.