Rice is one of the most widely consumed grains worldwide. In addition to being a staple food, rice has also been used as fertilizer since ancient times. The question is whether or not rice can be composted.
Composting is a natural way to recycle organic waste into rich soil. Composting is a great way to reduce household trash and save energy.
Rice can be composted properly when placed deep within and mixed into the compost. However, there are several problems when turning rice into compost. First is the rotting factor, second is pest control, and last is bacterial contamination.
Getting rid of cooked rice can sometimes be a hassle and composting it is a good option. In this article, I will explain the downsides of composting rice and the things you should know to prevent a smelly situation.
Can You Compost Cooked Or Leftover Rice?
Rice is an organic matter and readily available in our kitchens and market. There are several types of rice available in the market.
But only four types of rice are more commonly used in a household which is: Basmati rice, Brown rice, Arborio rice, and Jasmine rice.
Rice contains energy, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, thiamin, pantothenic acid, folate, and vitamin E. It also contains thiamin and niacin along with minerals like zinc and phosphorus.
The abundance of nutrients and minerals in rice makes it an excellent compost material. However, the fiber content in rice is lower than in wheat and maize.
Rice is mainly boiled in plain water to release its starch. The perfect rice to water ratio is typically one-part rice and 1.5-2 parts water.
So, if you have boiled a large quantity of rice or leftovers, there is no need to worry. You can turn those into compost for your garden and plants.
Cooked rice goes bad in a couple of days. It becomes sour and soggy depending upon the conditions it is being stored in. It is tricky to compost cooked rice, but it is not impossible. You have to be careful while composting it.
Usually, cooked rice is composted because throwing it in bins outside the home can attract pests.
Cooked rice also produces certain microbes that can increase the acidity of the compost. Hence, you can add white lime to reduce the acidity while it decomposes.
Another thing is that it is easy to compost boiled rice. Rice mixed with meat or spices can speed up the rotting process and it will be hazardous.
Spiced rice is also home to foul-smelling bacteria. These bacteria and microbes can contaminate the entire pile.
So, you should decompose rice only if you are an expert composter.
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How To Compost Rice?
Now that you are ready to compost your leftover rice, here are some methods of composting that you can follow:
When a hot compost is active and working well, the temperatures are usually maintained between 40-60 degrees centigrade.
The high temperature causes the breaking down of the composting residues quickly as compared to cold compost.
It is essential to provide aeration to the hot compost pile. Moreover, the pile needs to be turned and mixed thoroughly because wet rice becomes sticky. Therefore, it can lead to uneven decomposition.
Hot compost can also prevent pests like rats and rodents. However, it is a big set up so it is not ideal for beginners.
Closed Compost Bin
A closed compost bin or a Tumblr allows a continuous supply of compost. It is covered making it difficult for pests to reach.
You can also add other organic waste to Tumblr. The resulting compost from the closed bin is better than the compact available on the market.
Rotate the container once every 2-3 weeks. Doing so will speed up the process and even out the decomposition.
Vermicompost Or Worm Bin
Worms love cooked rice. Vermicompost is an easy and efficient method. You should only be concerned about the quantity of rice thrown in the garden. Worms can only eat in reasonable amounts.
Add the rice gradually to avoid harmful bacteria from forming. Also, spread out the compost for aeration.
Place your compost heap or compost pile or bin in a convenient location that is a distance away from your home to prevent any foul smells that may arise from a compost-gone-bad situation.
It’s important to keep the compost aerated to the decomposing bacteria will have enough energy to break down the organic matter during the decomposition process.
For this reason, if you’re composting rice, it makes sense to put it in the center of the pile, where the temperature there is highest.
This will also ensure that any unwanted smells do not eliminate from the pile of rotting rice if it comes to that.
How Long Does Rice Take To Compost?
Whether you are using cooked rice or uncooked rice, composting depends upon the method used. Boiled/plain rice is easy and quick to compost. They are usually ready in 4-5 weeks.
Sometimes additives are used to speed up the process, such as urea. Microorganisms such as Trichoderma harzianum, commonly known as Tricho, speed up the process.
Many composters rotate and mix the pile once in 2-3 weeks for good airflow. If the temperature, moisture, and aeration conditions are good, it takes 4-8 weeks for the compost to be ready.
Precautions When Composting Rice
Specific concerns should be kept in mind while composting rice.
- Rice is a good source of carbohydrates. Hence, pests like rodents and rats can quickly get past your compost pile and ruin your composting.
- Spiced rice increases the growth of toxic bacteria. If you are composting inside the house, spiced rice can result in a foul smell. So, it is better to avoid using spiced rice for composting.
- Wet or cooked rice can quickly rot if conditions like temperature and moisture are not sufficient.
- Uncooked rice lacks moisture. Hence, it takes longer to decompose.
Table of Advantages and Disadvantages of composting rice:
|Rice compost contains a range of micronutrients and microorganisms beneficial to plant growth and soil health.||The grains of rice are small. They clump together, causing anaerobic conditions, which can lead to unpleasant and smelly piles.|
|Composting at high temperatures (above 55C) prevents the growth of pathogens and reduces the viability of weed ||Cooked rice attracts rodents.|
|Cooked and uncooked rice can be used.||Lack of moisture in uncooked rice can cause uneven decomposition|
|Rice is an organic material. Hence, it provides a 20:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio.||The amount of nitrite is not sufficient.|
Can Uncooked Rice Be Composted?
The simple answer is yes, uncooked or raw rice can be composted. And it is somewhat easy to compost uncooked rice because it does not attract pests. However, it does attract insects and clump together.
The clumping of wet or raw rice can result in anaerobic conditions that can lead to uneven and moldy compost.
But the solution is to put rice in a hot compost to prevent all these hazards and rotate the heap over time to avoid any dangerous pathogens.
What Other Kitchen Leftovers Can be Composted?
Yes, several other kitchen leftovers can be used to make compost.
You can compost pasta cooked or uncooked. The conditions used are similar to rice. Spiced pasta or meat with pasta is not a good option to use. Uncooked pasta attracts fewer pests and is easy to compost.
Milk products such as milk powder, cheese, butter, cream, etc., can be composted. But they must be dry before adding them to the compost bin.
They are not suitable for use with the worm farm.
Fruit and Vegetables
Composting fruits and vegetables is more difficult than composting grains. Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of water content. This means that they take much longer to decompose. Moreover, fruit and vegetable scraps attract many pests.
So, when composting fruit and vegetables, it is best to separate out the edible parts first.
Eggshells can be composted but they need special attention. Eggshells contain calcium carbonate which helps in keeping the pH balance of the soil.
But eggshells contain high levels of phosphorus which can cause problems when the compost is applied
Yes, bread can easily be composted. But like rice, any kitchen leftover can attract pests. So it depends on the method you use to decompose.
Bread breaks down quickly, and it is a high source of nitrogen. It does not change the conditions of your soil and provides nutrients for plant growth and development.
If you want to grow healthy plants, you should avoid using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.
They all kill beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, which help pollinate our food crops. They also damage the environment by killing natural predators of harmful pests.
The Best Way to Dispose of Cooked Rice
Cooked rice can be a task to get rid of if you don’t want to risk the smell of it decomposing. Feeding rice to animals or even chickens can be a good option to effectively dispose of rice.
Chickens are omnivores, meaning they will eat anything from plants or animals. Rice can also be considered an animal food, so chickens can be fed with this type of grain.
Rice contains starch, protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and carbohydrates. These components are essential for chicken nutrition.
A lot of people think that feeding chickens only with corn are better than feeding them with rice. Corn is rich in energy but low in protein.
It is also important to note that chickens do not digest rice well. Therefore, if you plan to feed them with rice, you should consider mixing it with another ingredient.
In conclusion, there are limited options for what you can do with leftover rice. The best option is to consume them.
Some people think that composting rice is a good idea. The problem is that it’s not as easy as it sounds, and if you’re not an expert composter, you could wind up with some serious problems.
But if you’re willing to put up with the extra work, it’s possible to turn your rice into a valuable resource for your garden.