Compost Production Pits for Crop Production [Uganda] [Uganda]

Olwezo lwakasasilo

technologies_3303 - Uganda

Completeness: 94%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

land user:

Baguma Innocent




Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) - Uganda

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?



It is a good sustainable land management technology that enables farmers locally to make cheap organic manure to increase food production while improving the degraded areas.

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Compost manure production is a sustainable land management practice promoted by small scale farmers by using banana, cassava, sweet potato peelings, jack fruit residues and food left overs. The aim is to improve soil fertility, increase agricultural production and household income. The technology makes nutrients more readily available to plants in a short period of time through composting. During composting, raw organic matter is transformed into stable humus which is absorbed by plants thus enabling increased production.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Compost manure application is an integrated pest, disease and soil fertility management technology that cheaply avails organic matter to increase crop/land productivity among local farmers. Farmers use locally available inputs like weeds, kitchen refuse, crop residues (maize, sorghum, millet, wheat among others) at less or no cost. These nutrients are thus made available to plants through transforming raw organic matter into stable humus, which is readily absorbed by plants. This increases agricultural and vegetable production. However, the nitrogen content in the compost can be further increased if waste plant materials such as Lantana Camara, Sesbania are integrated. Procedures to make compost manure include the following steps:

• Digging pits of about 2m length, 2 m width and 0.75 m depth.
• Placing the assorted organic materials in pit no. 1 and covering it with soil in a dome shape to prevent water from seeping into the decomposing materials. Residues so assembled should be in their raw form collected from either the kitchen, weeds from gardens, peelings and crop residues like maize and sugarcane husks. As a rule of thumb, the compost pile should be build by beginning with a bottom layer of bigger sized materials, such as maize stovers, of about 15cm height. This should also include a layer of dry vegetation, hedge or grass cuttings to about 15cm height. Sprinkling top soil and adding water by using a watering can will to moisten the whole layer. In this pit, the degradation process will take a period of 1-2 months.
• In the third month, the materials are then transferred to pit no. 2, arranged and compressed in layers and covered with soil in a dome shaped manner.
• After another spell of 4-5 months, these decomposed materials are then transferred to pit no. 3. This comprises of decomposed matter ready for use. In this last pit, manure in the final stage is always cold, dark and most importantly, less bulky. It produces a pleasant smell when spread.

In case of a banana plantation, ready compost is applied around the banana hills or in trenches between 4 banana plants. Soils with compost cannot easily be washed away by water or blown by wind as the soil particles are held tightly together with the sticky substance secreted in the process of decomposition. This glue-like structure also helps to hold moisture in the soil hence improving the structure.
The farmer selects a suitable and convenient place for the compost pit system preferably near the garden and home stead where he digs three pits. The cost of digging a compost pit depends on where the pits are to be located. If the place is easy to dig, each pit costs about UGX 5,000/=. Other costs include, hiring a spade at UGX 1,000/=, a hoe at UGX 1,000/=, a pan at UGX 1,000/= and a watering can at UGX 1,000/=, all summing up to UGX 9000/= for the whole activity. The technology improves production in both annual and perennial plants such as fodder grasses and crops through restoring degraded soils by improving soil structure, soil moisture and micro organism content. As the technology provides nutrients to plants it also reduces environmental pollution associated with inorganic fertilizer use. Nutrients are released gradually, enabling the following year’s crops to benefit as well. Weeding is done easily in areas applied with compost manure as the soil has a soft texture. Through this technology, home hygiene is improved by utilising wastes. Plant diseases and pests like banana weevils are suppressed.
However, making compost manure is challenging. It requires a lot of commitment and serious efforts to collect the kitchen and garden residues all the time. Digging a pit is quite laborious and farmers with little land find it hard to reserve land for compost pits.
This technology is an agronomic measure that helps in waste management through recycling, re-use or reduction of wastes, thereby improving sustainable land management. Maintenance is always by ensuring that compost pits are not under permanent shade and properly covered. Pits should be emptied after the process is done in preparation for the next cycle.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology





Name of videographer:

Aine Amon

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:



Coordinate points where the technology was captured were E 03017319 (Longitude) and Latitude N 004014.4

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • during experiments/ research

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
Main crops (cash and food crops):

Bananas, vegetables (cabbage, amarathus among others)

If land use has changed due to the implementation of the Technology, indicate land use before implementation of the Technology:

Land use has not changed due to the technology applied.

3.3 Further information about land use

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • integrated soil fertility management
  • home gardens

3.5 Spread of the Technology

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • applied at specific points/ concentrated on a small area

In case of banana plantation, the compost is applied around banana heaps and in trenches between 4 banana heap.

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
structural measures

structural measures

  • S4: Level ditches, pits
management measures

management measures

  • M6: Waste management (recycling, re-use or reduce)

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline
  • Bl: loss of soil life

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation
  • restore/ rehabilitate severely degraded land

Compost manure application reduces /restores degraded soils. This is throug improving soil structure, soil moisture and micro organism content.

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology


Prossy Kaheru



4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

The dimensions for the compost pits are:
Width 2 m
Length 2 m
Depth 0.5 m
Slope: Gentle slope

4.3 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
other/ national currency (specify):


Indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (if relevant): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:

1 Pit costs 2500/= (i.e Labour to construct a pit where the residues are deposited).

4.4 Establishment activities

Activity Type of measure Timing
1. Select a suitable place near the garden and near the home stead Other measures Once
2. Site should not be under permanent shade Other measures Once
3. Put top soil in between different layers to quicken decomposition Structural once
4. After filling with materials,cover with soil and make it dome shaped Structural Once
5. leave it to settle for 4-5 months when it is fully decomposed Other measures Once

4.5 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Digging 3 Pits man pit 3.0 2500.0 7500.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a hoe pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a spade pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a watering can pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a pan pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 11500.0
If land user bore less than 100% of costs, indicate who covered the remaining costs:

All costs are covered by the land user (100%)


The technology is cost efficient to low income farmers.

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. By covering the manure under decomposition Management Every 5 months
2. By empying the pits when manure is ready Management Every 5 months

The technology has few activities on the maintenance side.

4.7 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Emptying pits 1.0 2500.0 2500.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a hoe pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a spade pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Equipment Hiring a pan pic 1.0 1000.0 1000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 5500.0

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour. Despite the fact that the technology is highly cost effective, most farmers lack money to hire people to dig pits for them and buy the few necessary inputs like spade, hoes for the activity to take place.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • subsistence (self-supply)
Off-farm income:
  • > 50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
Age of land users:
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • communal (organized)

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Quantity before SLM:

8Kg of bananas in 1 acre

Quantity after SLM:

25kg of banana in 1 acre

crop quality


fodder production


fodder quality

Income and costs

farm income

Comments/ specify:

Farmers are able with the use of this technology to harvest high yields for both home consumption and commercial purposes.

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


Ecological impacts


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

Moisture increases to 75%

soil loss

Comments/ specify:

Soils with composts cannot easily be blown by water and wind as the soil particles are held tightly together with the sticky substance secreted in the process. This glue-like structure also helps to hold moisture in the soil hence improving the soil texture and structure and therefore wind and rains cannot blow away the soils.

nutrient cycling/ recharge

Comments/ specify:

Nutrients can be recycled in the soil over and over again in the process of applying this manure to the soil.

soil organic matter/ below ground C

Comments/ specify:

Breaking down of matter like weeds, shrubs, kitchen residues (banana, cassava, sweet potato peelings) into humus by the micro-organisms improve on the soil organic matter.

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover

Comments/ specify:

High fertility levels of the soils from theses decomposed composts increase the vegetation cover as a result of humus generated.

animal diversity

Comments/ specify:

The quantity of annelids like earth worms increased. This is because they feed on both live and dead organic matter. Earthworms help in the breaking down of organic matter into humus and improve on soil aeration.

pest/ disease control

Comments/ specify:

Besides enriching the soil with fertility, the compost manure has the ability to suppress diseases and pests in the garden like the banana weevil.

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

Comments regarding impact assessment:

The technology has no off site impacts.

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many have did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 90-100%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Manure made on farm is cheaper than when it is brought from off farm.
Organic manure improves on soil structure.
Manure is readily available.
Increases water holding capacity.
The technology improves on home hygiene.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
It is a very cheap technology that avails manure to farmers using locally available materials.
Poor farmers who cannot afford buying in organic fertilizers can improve on their yields using this technology.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
The technology requires a garden that is so close to the homestead since the materials are bulky to carry. Make pits closer to the home.
Need to control the rainfall run off from the decomposing area. Advisable to construct pits under shades.
Microbes required to release nutrients require moisture so seasonal variations may affect the system. Farmers should always utilize the seasons' conditions to enable best microbial action.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Few farmers have adopted the technology since it demands commitment. Sensitization to farmers on the importance of organic manure.
There is always a bad smell before the materials are covered up hence may result to conflicts from neighbours. Collecting the wastes faster and cover them immediately.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

The Effects Of Various Organic Fertilizers On Growth Biology Essay,PASCHALIS BARLAS,2013

Available from where? Costs?

7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

Climate change mitigation potential of agricultural practices supported by IFAD investments by Mery Richards,Aslihan Arslan,Romina Cavatassi Todd Rosenstock


Links and modules

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