Many of us are aware of the positive environmental benefits traditional composting can have. But Bokashi, which is a method that breaks down food waste through fermentation, also has a range of positive benefits for the environment as well as for the home.
With more people looking to reduce their food waste, this blog discusses the differences between composting and Bokashi as well as the pros and cons of each method.
What is composting?
Composting involves the breakdown of organic matter and is common practice in agriculture, horticulture and is commonly used in households across the UK as a medium to support soil fertility in gardens.
Organic matter is regularly aerated and mixed during composting which stimulates the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that help to break down organic matter into a nutrient-rich waste.
What is Bokashi?
Bokashi is a fermentation process that involves the breakdown of organic matter.
Unlike composting, during the fermentation process, Bokashi waste is not aerated but instead is contained in an airtight environment such as under a cover or inside a container like a Bokashi waste bin.
Seashells, clay, and microorganisms in the form of Bokashi bran are sprinkled on top of the organic matter and encourage the breakdown of waste.
After a few weeks, Bokashi waste can be used as a nutrient-rich fertiliser in the garden, encouraging healthy plant development.
To find out more about Bokashi and how it can be used in the garden, read our introduction to Bokashi blog here.
Bokashi vs composting
In a recent study carried out by Feed Innovation Services in The Netherlands, Bokashi and composting were compared.
The study aimed to understand how the two processes differ by creating large heaps of both compost and Bokashi.
Although the results of the study on a much larger scale would not be possible within the home, the same theories learned from the study can be applied to home composting and Bokashi helping individuals to better understand how the two methods can benefit the environment.
The most significant results were:
- Bokashi was found to be much sweeter smelling and lighter in colour than compost which smelt rotten and was much darker in colour making it much more pleasant to work with in the home
- Nutrients were also found to be better retained through Bokashi fermentation compared to compost meaning the final product of the Bokashi process is great for the garden
- There was a significant difference in heat production and emissions produced between the two methods with compost reaching an average temperature of 60°C and Bokashi reaching 15°C. For those that are conscious of their carbon footprint, Bokashi is an effective way of breaking down organic matter in a way that isn’t harmful for the environment
- 3.2% of the starting material disappeared during Bokashi fermentation while 60% disappeared during composting meaning a greater amount of organic matter is retained in the end product of Bokashi to be spread on the garden
- Unlike compost, Bokashi fermentation does not need to be mixed regularly which helps to save time for those with busy lifestyles