The aim of this study was to investigate the composting of cattle manure with or without a variety of bulking agents. Four piles formed by cattle manure, blended with rice straw (CP2), banana leaves (CP3), maize straw (CP4). However, the first pile (CP1) composted without a bulking agent. All blends were composted for 60 days. During composting, the piles were monitored for the main physical-chemical characteristics: Temperature, % moisture, pH value, total organic matter, total organic carbon, total nitrogen, C/N ratio, and NH4+-N. The majority of the studied parameters were influenced by the bulking agents rather than composting of cattle manure solely. Furthermore, temperature, pH, C/N ratio, and nitrogen retention were more valuable in composting pile blended with, rice straw and maize straw. Therefore, in another experimental trial of 10 weeks duration, due to its availability, rice straw was used as a bulking agent to investigate the prevailing microbial communities. The indigenous population of total mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria increased after two and three weeks, respectively and then the mesophilic decreased rabidly and the thermophilic stabilized or increased. Besides, the average number of total coliforms, fecal coliforms, and fecal enterococci showed decrement with time. In conclusion, the addition of a bulking agent was necessary to compost cattle manure in Nile Delta ecosystem. Specially, rice straw as it produced compost with an organic matter, total nitrogen, and C/N ratio content suitable for use as soil amendment and also more sanitary from the microbial counts view. Furthermore, this is the first report determining the influence of bulking agent addition to cattle manure on performance of composting process in the continent of Africa, Egypt.
Key words: Composting, cattle manure, physical-chemical characteristics, bulking agent, microbial diversity.
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