When thinking about composting, most people think it’s a one size fits all solution. However, this is very rarely the case. Everyone’s situation is a little different and it’s important to remember to find a solution that fits your lifestyle (not the other way around). Both Bokashi and traditional aerobic composting are great solutions to help manage your food waste. If you’ve never heard of bokashi composting, you should probably check out this article. Otherwise, we can right into our bokashi vs composting comparison. At the end of the article, let us know which you prefer when comparing aerobic composting vs. bokashi
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Bokashi vs Composting: Things to consider when choosing a composting method
When choosing a method finding one that fits your lifestyle is ideal. Some factors to consider when choosing a composting method are:
If you are using aerobic composting you will need to do it outside. All of the systems I’ve seen be it a compost pile or a compost tumbler are best suited for the outdoors. On the other hand, If you are using the bokashi composting method that can be done indoors. You can even use bokashi composting in an apartment, a few extra steps will be required to fully break down the waste after the first stage but it is completely doable.
Aerobic composting systems pick up a lot of space when compared to bokashi. A hot aerobic composting system needs to be at least a 1-meter cube in volume so that the system can hold enough heat so that the thermophilic bacteria can break down the food waste for optimum results. Bokashi, on the other hand, takes up very little space. You can literally store your bokashi bin right under your sink.
3. Feedstock/ Materials to compost
Aerobic composting requires a mix of brown and green material. And, when using in-home composting systems things like meat and dairy aren’t recommended. With bokashi composting, you can compost all your food waste except oily food. If you have very little yard space, then bokashi is a really good fit because no brown material is required.
Bokashi compost bin
Bokashi vs Composting: Important differences between
There are many differences between the bokashi composting method and the traditional aerobic composting method. For this article, I would focus on the 5 main differences between
1. The type of microbes being used
The most obvious difference is that traditional composting requires a highly oxygenated environment. If the system becomes anaerobic harmful phytotoxins and greenhouse gasses such as methane will be produced. However, although bokashi composting is anaerobic the family of bacteria used works in synergy. No greenhouse gasses are produced and beneficial plant nutrients such as sugars are generated that can be utilized by plants.
2. Decomposition vs. fermentation
In traditional composting systems, the food waste decomposes creating nutrient-rich humus. At the end of the composting process, the original material is no longer identifiable. This is very different when compared to bokashi. In the bokashi method, the food waste has been fermented (not decomposed) and looks exactly the same until it gets buried into the soil. Only when it is buried in the soil does the decomposition process take place.
3. The amount of nitrogen produced
Aerobic composting losses nitrogen as nitrogen gas in the air and as nitrogen compounds in the leachate (i.e. the liquid waste) out of the system. Because the food waste remains reasonably unchanged in bokashi composting and the system produces very little water, the loss of nitrogen is significantly less using the bokashi method.
4. pH of the system
The pH of an anaerobic composting system is neutral while the pH of the bokashi process is acidic. During the fermentation process in bokashi, the microbes produce organic acids which lower the pH in the bokashi bin. These acids produced by the bokashi microbes also preserve food waste. This is why your bokashi food waste looks the same even though it has been sitting in a bucket for a month or more.
5. Heat generated
When using a Hot Aerobic composting method the heat generated is useful to kill off weed seeds and pathogens. However, this also means that there is less material to be utilized by plants. If you’ve ever done a traditional hot compost pile you will know that the final volume may be about 1/3 of the original volume of material. Some of that material loss was the carbon being used up by the microbes to produce energy. The Bokashi Fermentation does not use up as much energy as hot composting there is no significant temperature change. However, because the environment is acidic it is still able to kill pathogens which gives it a real benefit over a cold aerobic composting method.
Bokashi and aerobic composting really are on 2 different sides of the composting spectrum. In many ways, they couldn’t be more different. If you wanted to you could combine the two. If your aerobic composting system is large enough you could add your bokashi compost to the middle of the active pile and it should all disappear in 10 to 14 days.
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