The Indore Composting System, Aka The Indore Method, Is A Traditional Composting Technique That Was Developed In The Early 20Th Century By Sir Albert Howard And His Associates, Including The Indian Agriculturist Yeshwant D. Wad. This System Is Named After The City Of Indore In India, Where It Was First Developed And Widely Practiced.

Here are the key features and principles of the Indore Composting System:

Layered Composting

Indore Composting System 
Bernard Dejean, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Indore method involves creating compost in layers, alternating between green materials (nitrogen-rich) and brown materials (carbon-rich). Green materials include kitchen scraps, fresh plant trimmings, and manure, while brown materials consist of dried leaves, straw, and other carbon-rich matter.


Proper aeration is crucial in this composting system. To ensure sufficient oxygen supply, the compost pile is turned regularly, typically every few weeks. This turning helps prevent anaerobic decomposition and promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms.

Moisture Control

Maintaining the right moisture level is essential for successful composting. The compost pile should be kept moist but not waterlogged. Adequate moisture encourages microbial activity and decomposition.

Balanced C:N Ratio

The proper balance of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) materials is crucial. A compost pile with a balanced C:N ratio breaks down efficiently. Typically, a C:N ratio of around 30:1 is ideal. But don’t obsess about this. Organic material will break down when the ratio is not perfect. It just takes longer if there is a shortage of nitrogen.

Thermophilic Phase

The Indore method aims to achieve high temperatures during the composting process. This leads to a thermophilic phase, during which harmful pathogens and weed seeds are killed off. Temperatures in the pile can reach 140-160°F (60-70°C).

Cold composting can also work, so don’t panic if your compost doesn’t reach high temperature. More weed seeds might survive, but you can still produce good compost.

To test your compost for weed seeds, put some damp compost in a warm place, airing cupboards are the traditional place, and see what grows after a few days/weeks.

Humus Formation

The end result of the Indore Composting System is high-quality humus-rich compost. This compost is used to improve soil structure, fertility, and water retention.

The Indore Composting System emphasises sustainable and organic gardening/farming practices. It was one of the pioneering techniques that contributed to the development of modern organic farming principles. The method prioritises recycling organic waste, improving soil health, and reducing the need for synthetic chemical fertilisers.

While there have been advances in composting techniques since the inception of the Indore method, its core principles of balanced layering, aeration, and thermophilic decomposition remain influential in organic gardening/farming and composting practices worldwide.

The Indore Compost System was used by F. C. King in his No Dig system at Levens Hall.

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Tag: Indore Composting System
Image Attribution: Bernard Dejean, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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