Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 Conditions required for rapid...
 Materials for composting
 Methods of composting
 Some composting experiments

Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; no. 415
Title: Production of artificial manure
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00015127/00001
 Material Information
Title: Production of artificial manure
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 20 p. : ill., plan ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Smith, F. B ( Frederick Burean )
Thornton, G. D ( George Daniel ), 1910-
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1945
Subject: Compost   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: F.B. Smith and G.D. Thornton.
General Note: Cover title.
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00015127
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000925225
oclc - 18237264
notis - AEN5873

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Front Matter
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Table of Contents
        Page 4
    Conditions required for rapid decomposition
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Materials for composting
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Methods of composting
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Some composting experiments
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
Full Text

September, 1945





Fig. 1.-Compost pit with concrete floor and brick side walls, with drainage
basin in rear, partly filled with compost.

Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to

Bulletin 415


N. B. Jordan, Chairman, Quincy
Thos. W. Bryant, Lakeland
M. L. Mershon, Miami
J. Henson Markham, Jacksonville
J. Thos. Gurney, Orlando
J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee


John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of the
H. Harold Hume, D.Sc., Provost for Agricul-
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Director
L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Asst. Dir., Research
W. M. Fifield, M.S., Asst. Dir., Admin.4
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor3
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Associate Editor3
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant Editors
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
Ruby Newell, Administrative Managers
K. H. Graham, LL.D., Business Manager3
Claranelle Alderman, Accountant3


W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist'
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Agronomist
G. E. Ritchey, M.S., Agronomist2
G. B. Killinger, Ph.D., Agronomist
R. W. Bledsoe, Ph.D., Agronomist
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate
Roy E. Blaser, M. S., Associate
H. C. Harris, Ph.D., Associate
Fred A. Clark, B.S., Assistant


A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., An. Industrialist' 3
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman3
E. L. Fouts, Ph.D., Dairy Technologists
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., Veterinarian3
L. E. Swanson, D.V.M., Parasitologist4
N. R. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Husb.S
G. K. Davis, Ph.D., Animal Nutritionist
T. R. Freeman, Ph.D., Asso. in Dairy Mfg.
R. S. Glasscock, Ph.D., An. Husbandman
D. J. Smith, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4
P. T. Dix Arnold, M.S.A., Asst. Dairy Husb.3
C. L. Comar, Ph.D., Asso. Biochemist
L. E. Mull, M.S., Asst. in Dairy Tech.4
J. E. Pace, B.S., Asst. An. Husbandman4
S. P. Marshall, M.S., Asst. in An. Nutrition4
C. B. Reeves, B.S., Asst. Dairy Tech.
Katherine Boney, B.S., Asst. Chem.
Ruth Taylor, A.B., Asst. Biochemist
Peggy R. Lockwood, B.S., Asst. in Dairy Mfs.


C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agri. Economist1 a
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associate3
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Associate
Max E. Brunk, M.S., Associate


Ouida D. Abbott, Ph.D., Home Econ.1
R. B. French, Ph.D., Biochemist


J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist'
A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Associate3
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant


G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Horticulturist'
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Hort.
Byron E. Janes, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.
R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
R. D. Dickey, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
Victor F. Nettles, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.'
J. Carlton Cain, B.S.A, Asst. Hort.
F. S. Lagasse, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.2


W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist1 3
Phares Decker, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Path.
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist
Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Asst. Botanist


F. B. Smith, Ph.D., Chemist' s
Gaylord M. Volk, M.S., Chemist5
J. R. Henderson, M.S.A., Soil Technologist
J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
L. G. Thompson, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
L. H. Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Bioshemist4
R. A. Carrigan, B.S., Asso. Biochemist
G. T. Sims, M.S.A., Associate Chemist
T. C. Erwin, Assistant Chemist
H. W. Winsor, B.S.A,, Assistant Chemist
Geo. D. Thornton, M.S., Asst. Microbiologists
R. E. Caldwell, M.S.A., Asst. Soil Surveyor4
Olaf C. Olson, B.S., Asst. Soil Surveyor*

SHead of Department.
2 In cooperation with U. S.
3 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
In Military Service.
6 On leave.



J. D. Warner, M.S., Vice-Director in Charge
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
V. E. Whitehurst, Jr., B.S.A., Asst. Animal
Jesse Reeves, Asst. Agron., Tobacco
W. H. Chapman, M.S., Asst. Agron.4
R. C. Bond, M.S.A., Asst. Agronomist

Mobile Unit, Monticello

R. W. Wallace, B.S., Associate Agronomist

Mobile Unit, Milton

Ralph L. Smith, M.S., Associate Agronomist

Mobile Unit, Marianna

R. W. Lipscomb, M.S., Associate Agronomist

Mobile Unit, Wewahitchka

J. B. White, B.S.A., Associate Agronomist


A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
V. C. Jamison, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
W. L. Thompson, B.S., Entomologist
W. W. Lawless, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist
C. R. Stearns, Jr., B.S.A., Asso. Chemist
H. O. Sterling, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist
T. W. Young, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
J. W. Sites, M.S.A., Asso. Horticulturist6
J. B. Redd, Ph.D., Insecticide Chemist


R. V. Allison, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
J. W. Wilson, Sc.D., Entomologist*
F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agron.
Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Sugarcane
G. R. Townsend, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. W. Kidder, M.S., Asst. An. Husb.
W. T. Forsee, Jr., Ph.D., Asso. Chemist
B. S. Clayton, B.S.C.E., Drainage Eng.2
F. S. Andrews, Ph.D., Asso. Truck Hort.4
R. A. Bair, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist
Earl L. Felix, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path.
C. L. Serrano, B.S.A., Asst. Chemist


Geo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Vice-Director in
P. J. Westgate, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
H. I. Borders, M.S., Asso. Plant Path.


Clement D. Gordon, Ph.D., Asso. Poultry
Geneticist in Charge2


W. G. Kirk, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
E. M. Hodges, Ph.D., Associate Agronomist
Gilbert A. Tucker, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4


G. K. Parris, Ph.D., Plant Path. in Charge

Plant City
A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist

A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
E. N. McCubbin, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist

S. O. Hill, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2 *
A. M. Phillips, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2

J. R. Beckenbach, Ph.D., Horticulturist in
E. G. Kelsheimer, Ph.D., Entomologist
A. L. Harrison, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist
E. L. Spencer, Ph.D., Soils Chemist

R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist in Charge
J. C. Russell, M.S., Asst. Entomologist5

E. S. Ellison, Meteorologist2 5
Warren O. Johnson, Meteorologist2

1 Head of Department.
2 In cooperation with U. S.
3 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
SIn Military Service.
5 On leave.


INTRODUCTION -... -.............. ................... .. ..................... 5

CONDITIONS REQUIRED FOR RAPID DECOMPOSITION ........................................ 5

M moisture ...... --------------------- ......................----------.............. 5

Air .......-- ..........------- -............-.. .............. ................... 6

Nitrogen ....--..------- .. ----------------------------........ ..... ............ ... 6

Phosphorus and Potassium .................----............ .--................. 7

MATERIALS FOR COMPOSTING ......................... ............ .................... 7

METHODS OF COMPOSTING ... ........ .................................................. 9

SOME COMPOSTING EXPERIMENTS ....----........-........... -------. 11

W after Hyacinth ..........--- ......... ............................................. 11

Pine Needles ..... -------------.....----------................................- 15

Spanish Moss and Spanish Moss Gin Waste ....---..........--..---.........--.... 18

SUMMARY --- --..------ .-.........

-- -- -- -- -- -I .. I- 2 0



The production and use of artificial manure or compost for
soil improvement and crop production are practices as old as the
art of agriculture. In the 17th century farmers in France paid
their taxes with nitre produced in the compost on the farm.
Then as now nitrate, one of the chief constituents in commer-
cial fertilizers and often the limiting factor in plant production,
was used in explosives. Composts are no longer used for the
commercial production of nitrates but greenhouse operators,
nurserymen, market gardeners, truck crop growers and the
home gardener may resort to compost as a supplement to or
substitute for the inadequate supply of farm manure.
Procedures for the production of artificial manure were worked
out in elaborate detail long before the scientific explanation of
the facts was known. Early settlers in New Jersey followed
the practice of composting wheat straw with marl and fish in
alternate layers. More recently a process has been patented
using a chemical reagent containing nitrogen and other elements
on plant materials, especially wheat straw. The purpose of this
bulletin is to discuss the conditions necessary for the decom-
position of plant materials and methods of composting under
Florida conditions, and to present the results of some compost-
ing experiments.

Moisture.-Microbial life and activities are conditioned by the
presence of water. Water is also essential for many reactions
which take place in the decomposition processes. A great deal
of heat is generated in the compost and unless sufficient mois-
ture is present it will dry out and decomposition will stop. On
the other hand, too much water should be avoided because air
necessary for the microorganisms is excluded. Too much water
also leaches out the soluble constituents which are lost, unless
a drain-basin is provided to catch the liquids draining away
from the compost. The temperature of the compost is a good
guide to follow after the compost heap has been made. A rapidly
decomposing compost will reach a temperature of 1300 to 1400
F. and the compost should not be allowed to dry out at this
stage. However, too much water applied at this time will
check decomposition and the compost will become cool again.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Mature oak leaves, grass, straw and such materials high in
cellulose are difficult to wet and naturally require more water
than green, succulent plant materials, such as crotalaria, beggar-
weed or water hyacinth. The rainfall in Florida normally can
be expected to supply a large part of the water required. How-
ever, with mature plant materials it will be necessary to add
some water for initiating the decomposition process and for
temperature control.
Air.-Decomposition in the compost is primarily aerobic and
if air is excluded it will be slow and incomplete. With ordinary
mature plant materials, such as dry grass, straw or leaves, the
small compost heap will be loose and too well aerated. In such
instances the compost should be thoroughly wet and well com-
pacted. If the compost heap is only 8 to 10 feet wide and 3 to 5
feet high there will usually be sufficient air for rapid decom-
position. If the material is finely divided or a pit is used where
the bottom may become waterlogged, a 4-inch tile laid from
the corners to the center of the heap and an upright through
the center will provide adequate aeration.
Nitrogen.-The microorganisms bringing about the decom-
position of the compost require nitrogen. The amount of nitro-
gen required per unit of material decomposed varies somewhat
with the different organisms active in the process. The molds,
a group of organisms active in the decomposition of compost,
require about 1 part of nitrogen for every 30 parts of carbon.
The ratio of nitrogen to carbon in the plant materials determines
the rate of decomposition and the amount of nitrogen that

Fig. 2.-Water hyacinth compost No. 1 after 2 weeks.

Production of Artificial Manure

must be added to effect rapid decomposition of nitrogen-poor
plant materials. Plant materials with less than 1.8 percent
nitrogen will require additional nitrogen to bring about decom-
Nitrogen may be supplied to the compost in a variety of ma-
terials. Leguminous plant materials rich in nitrogen may be
used to supply a part or all of the nitrogen required. Farmyard
manure which contains about 10 pounds of nitrogen per ton has
long been used in the compost. Manure supplies not only, nitro-
gen but also organic matter and a rich flora of microorganisms.
Fish used by early settlers in making compost supplied the
nitrogen for decomposition of the straw. Where available, fish
scrap or fertilizer-fish may be used to good advantage. The
use of chemical nitrogen has been advocated in recent years.
There are many nitrogen fertilizer materials which may be used
satisfactorily. Ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium
nitrate, cyanamid, potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and urea
are all excellent sources of nitrogen. Cyanamid is especially
good because it also contains considerable calcium hydroxide
which neutralizes the acidity produced in the decomposition.
If ammonium sulfate is used, it is necessary to add 50 to 75
pounds of limestone per ton of plant material. Good results have
been obtained with 75 pounds of cyanamid per ton of mature,
strawy materials. Fairly rapid decomposition of water hyacinth
may be obtained without the addition of nitrogen to the compost.
Phosphorus and Potassium.-Phosphorus as well as nitrogen
is a constituent of every living cell and without it, cells cannot
multiply. Potassium is also necessary for many microorgan-
isms. Usually a small amount of these constituents will be
sufficient. Superphosphate at the rate of 15 pounds and muriate
of potash at the rate of 10 pounds per ton of plant material will
supply adequate available phosphorus and potassium for de-
composition. Finely ground rock phosphate in larger amounts
may be used instead of the superphosphate.

Any plant material may be composted. Some plant materials
decompose more readily than others and some materials produce
better compost than others. Any plant material will decompose
more rapidly if composted when it is green and succulent than
after it is mature and dry. Young plants usually have a higher
percentage of nitrogen than old plants. The mature plant

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

becomes woody and lignified and has less of the easily decom-
posed carbohydrates than the green plant.
Weeds, grass, straw, cornstalks, cane trash, peat, muck, leaves,
pine needles, Spanish moss gin waste, kitchen waste, crotalaria,
beggarweed, coffee bean, garbage, cannery refuse, water hya-
cinth, crop residues of any kind, stall bedding and strawy manure
are materials available and commonly used in Florida.
The water hyacinth is one of the best materials available for
composting. It contains sufficient minerals for relatively com-
plete decomposition and can be obtained in a green and succulent
condition containing sufficient water to insure rapid decomposi-
tion. It has the disadvantage of considerable difficulty of har-
vesting but that is an engineering problem which may be solved.
Peat and muck have been used extensively in compost and
when supplemented with other materials a highly satisfactory
product can be made. These materials have an additional value
in that they have a high absorptive capacity. However, it must
be remembered that these materials have already undergone
extensive decomposition and when allowed to dry out they are
wetted again only with difficulty. Peat containing 40 percent
moisture thoroughly mixed in a shredding machine with 5 to
10 gallons of molasses per ton and minerals will set up active
fermentation and after 3 weeks may be used. Peat may be
composted also with farmyard or poultry manure or with plant
Pine needles may be composted (Fig. 3) but they do not de-
compose readily and ordinarily should be used only in conjunc-

Fig. 3.-Composted pine needles.


Production of Artificial Manure

tion with other materials such as farmyard manure. Spanish
moss- gin waste is another material which should not be com-
posted alone but may be used with other plant materials and
Methods of producing artificial manure vary so widely with
materials available for composting and conditions that only
general procedures can be given. Details of the procedure may
be adapted to fit local conditions. Thus, where conditions war-
rant the production of artificial manure on a large-scale, much
of the work may be done with machinery. One of the severest
difficulties encountered in composting has been the large amount
of labor involved. If this economic handicap could be over-
come, no doubt the practice of composting would become a
popular means of adding organic matter to the soil.
For the home garden, select a level place about 10 feet square
and place a layer of materials about a foot deep. If the materials
used are dry leaves or mature, woody materials sprinkle with
water until thoroughly wet and pack tightly. Next scatter
uniformly over the surface 15 to 25 pounds ,of a reagent to
supply nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These materials
not only supply required elements for microorganisms but they
also reinforce the compost in these fertilizer constituents. One
hundred fifty pounds of a mixture containing 75 pounds of cyana-
mid, 65 pounds of finely ground rock phosphate and 10 pounds
of muriate of potash per ton of plant material has given ex-
cellent results. Any other nitrogen material used on a nitrogen
equivalent basis will give satisfactory results. Superphosphate
may be used instead of rock phosphate. If the minerals are
not available, a 6-inch layer of farmyard manure will serve
well. In case neither minerals nor manures are available, then
a layer of plant material rich in nitrogen, as green crotalaria
or cowpea vine hay, or even rich soil may be used. The process
of alternate layering may be repeated until the compost heap
is 3 to 5 feet high. If dry materials have been used, 5 feet is
not too high. However, if much soil has been used, it is best to
keep the compost heap about 3 feet high. The sides of the com-
post heap should be kept vertical and the top left flat or de-
pressed in order to catch and hold the maximum amount of
rainfall. If the compost heap is rounded on top it will shed
water and a longer time will be required for decomposition.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Where artificial manure is made on a larger scale than that
of the home garden the compost heap should be in a row any
convenient length and about 8 feet wide. Where available power
machinery should be used for shredding, mixing and wetting
the compost.

SCALE- /"* 5z'

yifhfar/eocfaK -
I I Ir
I i
\ I__ _'_

/9w/ and side view

Fig. 4.-Details of construction of a manure pit.

Greenhouse operators and market gardeners may profitably
use a manure pit for the compost heap similar to the one shown
in Fig. 4. While the one shown may be larger than is needed
for many purposes, it can be very easily changed to meet exist-
ing needs. The floor and well are the most important parts. They
should be water-tight, the floor sloping to the center and toward
the well in the rear and may be used with or without the sides.
If sides are used they may vary as to height to suit the builder's
desire; however, it is probably a waste of materials to construct
them higher than 5 feet. The well may be fitted with a hand
pump or a bucket may be used to lift the leached liquid back
to the surface of the heap. If no sides are used it is very im-

Production of Artificial Manure

portant not to extend the heap completely, to the edge of the
floor, for this will result in the waste of a lot of the valuable
water that will run off over the sides of the heap.
Poured concrete of a 1-21/4-3 mix (by measure) of cement,
sand and coarse aggregate is best for the floor. When this
is mixed with approximately 5 gallons of water for each bag
of cement a water-tight concrete results. The cost may be re-
duced somewhat by using a foundation mixture of 1-23/4-4 for
the bottom 6 inches of the floor and topping this with 4 inches
of the water-tight mixture. The sides may be made of wood,
stone, brick, concrete blocks or poured concrete.
In nearly all cases of active decomposition the compost will
begin to heat after about 3 days. The compost should not be
disturbed at this stage. However, the temperature should be
watched and the compost should not be allowed to dry out.
Water should be applied to check the rate of decomposition if
the temperature goes above about 1400 F. If the compost be-
comes dry at this stage of rapid decomposition, it is said to be
"fire-fanged" and the value as manure is materially reduced.

Water Hyacinth.-Water hyacinth was taken from a lake on
the China Tung Oil Corporation farm near LaCrosse, Florida,2
and composted after the free water had drained from the plants.
Three compost heaps were made, each containing approximately
10 tons of the green plants. One compost was made without
minerals and 2 were made with 150 pounds of a chemical re-
agent. The composition of the reagents used was as follows:
Reagent Used in Compost No. 1
Urea ........... ............ ...... ........- .... 42 pounds
Rock phosphate ............................... ... 75 pounds
Lim estone ...-...-................. ................ 23 pounds
Muriate of potash ............................... 10 pounds
Total .- .................. ......... ........ 150 pounds
Reagent Used in Compost No. 2
Cyanamid ...........--.......- ........... .... 75 pounds
Rock phosphate ............. ........................ 65 pounds
Muriate of potash ................................ 10 pounds
Total ........................ .................. 150 pounds
The assistance and cooperation of Mr. Harry W. Bennett, owner of
the farm, is gratefully acknowledged. Also credit is due Mr. J. C. Cain
for his assistance in the preparation and analysis of these composts.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The composts were made by placing approximately 2 tons of
the green plants on a level place 10 feet square and then sprink-
ling uniformly over this 25 pounds of the reagent after the plants
had been thoroughly packed by tramping. The process was
repeated until the third layer had been placed, then 35 pounds
of the reagent were used on the fourth layer. Forty pounds
of reagent were used on the fifth layer. The concentration of
the reagent in the upper layers of the compost allowed for leach-
ing of the material through the compost and a more even dis-
tribution of the reagent. The compost heap was finished with
a slight depression in the center and soil thermometers were
placed in this depression. The temperature of the compdsts
was taken after 3, 7, 14, 28, 60 and 120 days. The temperature
readings are recorded in Table 1.

(Degrees Fahrenheit).
Compost No. 2
Days After Compost No. 1 (Cyanamid Compost No. 3
Composting (Urea Reagent) Reagent) (Without Reagent)
3 70.0 70.0
7 109.9 111.2
14 131.9 129.9 111.2
28 129.9 131.9 117.9
60 106.9 109.9 106.0
120 117.9 119.8 111.2

Maximum temperatures were obtained after 14 and 28 days.
There was not much difference in the maximum temperatures of
the composts but the maximum temperature of the untreated
compost was not as high as that of the heaps treated with the
Observations made at the 14-day period indicated rapid de-
composition of composts 1 and 2, but flower buds were opening
from plants still growing in compost 3. After 60 days all com-
posts were in a fair stage of decomposition. At this time com-
post 1 seemed to be the least decomposed and compost 2 the
most decomposed. The composts were forked over and thor-
oughly mixed at this time.

Production of Artificial Manure

The material in the center of the composts was the least well
decomposed. The stakes at the corners of the compost heap
show the original height of the pile.
A sample of the green plants was taken at the time of com-
posting. Representative 3-pound samples of the different com-
posts were taken aseptically after 1, 2 and 4 months for
microbiological and chemical analyses.
The numbers of molds and bacteria in the different composts
were determined by the dilution plate method. Synthetic acid
agar was used for the mold counts and egg-albumin agar for
the bacteria. The numbers of microorganisms at the different
samplings are shown in Table 2.


Thousands of Microorganisms per Gram of Dry Material
Compost 1 Month 2 Months 3 Months
Molds I Bacteria Molds Bacteria ] Molds Bacteria
No. 1 (urea
reagent) ........ 5.0 3,250 25 2,300 300 76,000
No. 2 (cyanamid
'reagent) ........ 10.0 1,100 75 6,700 330 9,300
No. 3 (without I
reagent) ....... 12.5 870 25 1,200 330 10,600

After 1 month the mold count was highest in the untreated
compost and the bacterial count was highest in the compost
treated with urea. At the 2 months sampling the mold and bac-
terial counts were highest in the compost treated with cyanamid.
Numbers of both molds and bacteria increased in all composts
at the 4 months sampling. The greatest increase in bacteria
occurred in the urea-treated compost.
Samples of the composts were dried and ground for chemical
analysis. One hundred grams of the moist materials were dried
in the oven at 1100 C. over-night for moisture determinations.
Nitrogen determinations were made on the air-dry materials
by the Kjeldahl method and results were calculated on an oven-
dry basis. Standard methods of plant analysis were used for.
the carbohydrate determinations. The column "polysaccharides,"
Table 3, includes dextrin, starch, pentosans and hemicellulose
or any other complex carbohydrate hydrolizing to reducing sugar

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

with dilute hydrochloric acid. The column "residual materials,"
Table 3, includes lignin and cellulose.


Material 41 e '

Water Hyacinth* .................. 92.5 0.80 1.62 29.58 24.50 97.84

Composts after 2 months
No. 1 (urea reagent) ........ 86.2 1.74 0.21 25.20 42.43 97.68
No. 2 (cyanamid reagent).. 76.2 1.83 0.34 4.27 47.62 92.16
No. 3 (without reagent) .... 75.9 1.98 0.38 14.02 46.51 4.96

Composts after 4 months
No. 1 (urea reagent) ........ 87.6 2.57 0.52 22.18 38.38 96.99
No. 2 (cyanamid reagent).. 71.8 1.76 0.47 14.78 41.88 92.11
No. 3 (without reagent) .... 71.8 1.88 0.19 13.80 51.95 94.60
*14.5% ash in dry matter.
**The factor 6.25 was used to convert nitrogen to protein.

The data show that considerable decomposition of the plant
material had taken place at the end of 4 months, and that
the treated composts were somewhat more completely decom-
posed than the check. However, there was still much undecom-
posed material in all of the composts.
From the appearance of the composts and the nitrogen con-
tents after 4 months, all were ready for use. However, the
composts were allowed to remain in the heap for another 4
months. The composts were weighed and samples were taken
to the laboratory for analysis and nitrification tests. The pH,
percent moisture and dry weights of compost produced are given
in Table 4.


Compost pH % Dry Weight of Compost
Moisture Produced (Pounds)
No. 1 (urea reagent) ........ 7.0 83.3 870
No. 2 (cyanamid reagent) 6.5 72.2 2,816
No. 3 (without reagent) .... 5.5 72.2 2,220

Production of Artificial Manure

Compost No. 1 contained the highest percentage of moisture
and the smallest amount of compost was produced. This com-
post was also highest in nitrogen after 4 months composting.
These data indicate more extensive decomposition in compost
No. 1 than in the other 2 composts.
Application of the composts at the rate of 10 tons per acre
were made on a Blanton fine sand in a tung grove. The composts
were spread broadcast and disked in lightly. Samples taken
4 weeks after treatment showed an increased nitrate content
in the compost-treated soils. Nitrification tests conducted in
the laboratory, Table 5, indicated that the nitrogen of these
composts was readily available.


Treatment ppm Nitrate-Nitrogen

Check ..... ............... .... .. ................. 0.148
Compost No. 1 (urea reagent) .............................. 3.618
Compost No. 2 (cyanamid reagent) ................... 4.730
Compost No. 3 (without reagent) ....................... 2.764

Pine Needles.-Five composts were made using pine needles
at the Florida Forest and Park Service Nursery, Olustee, Florida,
July 20, 1938. Approximately 1 ton of pine needles was used
in each compost, except No. 5 where 1,000 pounds of pine needles
were composted with 1,000.pounds of horse manure. The re-
agents used in the composts were as follows:

Compost No. 1
Cyanamid ........................... ...... 75 pounds
Superphosphate ...................... 75 pounds
Compost No. 2
Urea ............-.....- ............ 37.5 pounds
Superphosphate ......-..... .............. 75.0 pounds
Dolom ite ....................................... 50.0 pounds
Compost No. 3
Cottonseed meal .................... 275.0 pounds
Superphosphate ...........-.......- 75.0 pounds
Dolomite ................ ...-............ 50.0 pounds
Compost No. 4
No chemical reagent
Compost No. 5
Pine needles ................................1000.0 pounds
Horse manure ..............- .........1000.0 pounds

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The composts 3 were made in the usual manner by placing
a layer of pine needles on an area about 10 feet square and about
1 foot thick, sprinkling with water and packing by tramping.
About 25 pounds of the reagent were then spread uniformly
over the wet surface of the pine needles and the process was
repeated until the ton of pine needles was used. The appear-
ance of the completed compost is shown in Fig. 3. Soil ther-
mometers were placed in the compost and daily readings were
made for a period of 4 weeks. The temperature of the composts
at stated intervals is shown in Table 6.


Temperature (Degrees Fahrenheit)
SCompost Compost Compost
Date No. 1 Compost No. 3 Compost No. 5
Air (Cyana- No. 2 (Cotton- No. 4 (Horse
mid) (Urea) seed Meal) (Check) Manure)
July 21- 76.8 97.9 99.3 118.4 90.3 115.9
July 23. 79.9 97.2 99.1 131.0 90.3 124.0
July 25.. 79.9 101.1 105.8 119.1 92.1 118.9
July 27.. 86.0 103.5 113.5 131.9 90.1 118.9
July 28.. 83.1 106.2 114.4 133.9 90.5 118.0
Aug. 2.... 82.8 109.7 105.6 138.2 90.5 115.9
Aug. 15* 82.4 94.5 98.2 122.0 90.7 93.9

*Composts forked over and thoroughly mixed, sprinkled with water and packed.

There was an immediate rise in temperature of the composts,
the highest temperature being reached in the compost with
cottonseed meal on the 10th day after composting. There was
only a slight increase in temperature in the compost of pine
needles without reagent, indicating only slight decomposition.
The composts were forked over on the 15th of August, thor-
oughly mixed and packed down again. Samples were taken
after 6 and 12 months for chemical and bacteriological analysis.
Ash, ether extract, nitrogen and lignin contents are shown on
oven-dry basis in Table 7.

3 The assistance of Messers. J. E. Mixon, Florida Forest and Park Service
Nursery, Olustee, Fla., and H. R. Ellis and C. D. Nearpass, student and
graduate student, respectively, of the College of Agriculture, is gratefully

Production of Artificial Manure

The analyses indicate roughly the relative extent of decom-
position in the composts. As decomposition proceeds the con-
tents of ash and nitrogen increase. The ash content of these
composts does not represent absolute values because of the
different minerals used in the various composts and also because
silica picked up as extraneous matter was not excluded. The
figures for the nitrogen contents of the composts are a better
guide to decomposition than the figures for ash. Compost No. 3
(cottonseed meal reagent) appeared to be more decomposed than
the others, but compost No. 2 (urea reagent) contained the
highest nitrogen at the 6 months sampling.


I% I
Material % Ether % I %
SAsh I Extract NitrogenI Lignin

Pine needles ...........................-........... 4.7 4.9 0.44 56.68
Compost No. 1 (cyanamid reagent)
After 6 months ..........-...------ ....-- 28.19 2.0 0.88 48.49
After 12 months ............................ 43.20 1.6 1.05 42.27
Compost No. 2 (urea reagent)
After 6 months ............ ........... 35.58 1.5 1.11 41.80
After 12 months ........................... 36.20 1.6 0.87 43.18
Compost No. 3 (cottonseed meal
After 6 months ............-..- ............ 33.35 2.0 0.91 43.91
After 12 months ............................ 35.82 1.7 0.95 44.58
Compost No. 4 (without reagent)
After 6 months ..-......................... 26.83 2.3 0.47 40.15
After 12 months ............................ 31.12 2.4 0.54 46.61
Compost No. 5 (pine needles and
horse manure)
After 6 months ..---------............. .. 31.72 1.7 0.74 42.26
After 12 months ............................ 41.97 1.5 0.84 42.40

Nitrification tests to determine the relative availabilities of
the nitrogen in the different composts were conducted in the
laboratory. Results are shown in Table 8.
Table 8 shows that the nitrogen in the composts was relatively
unavailable, and there was a slight decrease in nitrification in
the soil treated with compost No. 4. These data indicate that
the composts were not sufficiently decomposed to be used as

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station



ppm Nitrate-Nitrogen

C h eck ............... .. ...... ...........

Compost No. 1 (cyanamid reagent) ....
Compost No. 2 (urea reagent) .................. ...
Compost No. 3 (cottonseed meal reagent) ........
Compost No. 4 (without reagent) ....................

Compost No. 5 (pine needles and horse manure)

Spanish Moss and Spanish Moss Gin Waste.4-Four composts
were made in July 1940, using green Spanish moss, 8.63 percent
moisture, or Spanish moss gin waste, 13.23 percent moisture,
both with and without reagent. (Fig. 5.) One hundred pounds
of a reagent containing equal portions of ammonium sulfate
and basic slag were used on approximately 1,000 pounds of moss
or gin waste moss as follows:

Compost No. 1
Spanish moss gin waste
Reagent ..........................
Compost No. 2
Spanish moss (green) ...
Reagent ..................... ...

1,025 pounds
100 pounds

1,000 pounds
100 pounds

'The assistance of Mr. Paul Selle is gratefully acknowledged.

Fig. 5.-Composted Spanish moss gin waste.

Production of Artificial Manure

Compost No. 3
Spanish moss gin waste ............ 1,025 pounds
Compost No. 4
Spanish moss (green) .............. 1,070 pounds

The composts were made as usual by placing a layer of the
material on the ground, sprinkling until thoroughly wet with
water and then spreading about 20 pounds of the reagent uni-
formly over the surface. The process was repeated until 5
layers had been placed on the compost heap. .The compost was
forked over after 3 weeks, wet and packed. The composts were
weighed and samples were taken for analysis October 12, 1940.
Table 9 shows the amounts of compost and Table 10 gives the
analyses of the materials before and after composting.

Pounds of
Compost Percent Compost
SMoisture (Oven-Dry)

Compost No. 1
Moss gin waste and reagent ................. 35.0 988
Compost No. 2
Green Spanish moss and reagent ........ 30.0 469
Compost No. 3
Moss gin waste (without reagent) ........ 30.0 1,029
Compost No. 4
Green Spanish moss (without reagent) 25.0 623

Table 9 shows a considerable loss in weight of dry matter
in the compost made from green Spanish moss. The loss in
weight was slightly higher in the compost with the reagent than
in the compost of green moss alone. The ash contents, Table 10,
indicate some decomposition in all of the composts but some of
the increase in this constituent represents extraneous matter.
However, the composts treated with the reagent contained higher
ash and nitrogen contents than the untreated composts, and
presumably were more completely decomposed. The lignin, being
more resistant to decomposition than the other fractions, tends
to accumulate. The percentage of lignin increased in the com-
posted materials over that in the undecomposed materials. The
ether-soluble matter was decreased in the composted materials.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The compost made from the green moss was fibrous and not
easily handled.

% Ash
(Oven- % Ash-Free Organic Matter
Material Dry Ether
_Basis) Nitrogen Extract Lignin
Green Spanish moss .......................... 2.79 0.54 3.87 21.64
Moss gin waste .................................. 11.77 0.94 3.71 44.33
Compost No. 1
(Moss gin waste and reagent).... 29.43 2.30 2.27 57.35
Compost No. 2
(Green Spanish moss and re-
agent) ...................................... 37.11 2.14 1.89 45.51
Compost No. 3
(Moss gin waste without re-
agent) ........................................ 26.10 1.58 2.00 57.48
Compost No. 4
(Green Spanish moss without re-
agent) ........................................ 7.53 1.29 3.83 56.33


Composts were made from water hyacinth, pine needles, Span-
ish moss and Spanish moss gin waste. Ammonium sulfate,
cottonseed meal, cyanamid, urea and horse manure were used as
sources of nitrogen. Rock phosphate, superphosphate and basic
slag were used as sources of phosphorus.
Composts made from water hyacinth were fairly well decom-
posed after 4 months. Analyses showed a fair grade of manure
could be made from the water hyacinth and that decomposition
was fairly rapid even without the addition of minerals. How-
ever, addition of minerals produced a better grade of compost.
Nitrification tests showed that the nitrogen contained in the
compost made from water hyacinth was readily available.
Composts made from pine needles were not sufficiently de-
composed after 6 months to prevent the mobilization of nitrogen
in the soil and even after 12 months the composted pine needles
were not well humified. Spanish moss and moss gin waste were
not well decomposed after nearly 3 months.


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