Definition - What does Decompose mean?

When plants, or any organic life, decomposes, its organic tissue breaks down into more simple forms of raw organic matter. Living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death. No two organisms decompose in the same way. However, all organisms go through the same stages of decomposition. Decomposition can be either anaerobic or aerobic. The primary decomposers of dead plant materials are fungi.

MaximumYield explains Decompose

In the process of decomposition, dead tissues break down and are converted into more simple organic forms. These simple organic parts are then used as food sources for many of the species that are at the base of the surrounding ecosystem.

When plant matter decomposes, it occurs in several different stages. Additionally, different types of plant compounds decompose at different rates. The breaking down of dead plant material is carried out by microbes, insects, and fungi. Warmth, or ambient air temperature, also plays a role in plant decay. The rate of plant decay is increased as temperature increases.

There are two types of decomposition, aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen). Aerobic decomposition is the most common decomposition process in nature. It generally takes place on ground surfaces such as the forest floor. In aerobic decomposition, living organisms feed upon the nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon released by decaying organisms. On the other hand, anaerobic decomposition does not use oxygen. Anaerobic decomposition generally takes place in buried organic materials that oxygen does not have access to.

Decomposed materials can be used in the making of compost. Gardeners or farmers can create their own compost by collecting dead or decaying organic materials such as grass clippings, manure, and food waste. These organic materials can then be decomposed in an aerobic or anaerobic way. Once the organic materials are sufficiently decomposed, they can then be added to soil or potted plants to give a boost of nutrients to living plants.
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