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MY FIRST COMPOST HEAP (EMU, information will follow)

BOVA Intensive Master Course

Number of credits in ECTS (number also depends on distance learning part) 3

Course description:

Relevance, objectives and innovation. 

Ecosystems rely upon the availability of carbon and nutrient cycling, where the organic materials are decomposed to accumulate organic matter in soils. During decomposition nutrients and carbon gets available for plants and microorganisms. Besides delivery of carbon and nutrients, soil organic matter improves the soil structure. Humans disturb natural cycles by accumulating biowaste, particularly in urban areas. Bio-waste is defined as food and kitchen waste from households and restaurants, garden and park waste and comparable industrial organic residues. EU Member States produce up to 138 M tonnes of bio-waste each year. Bio-waste comprised up to 50 % of municipal solid waste. Currently, approximately 75 % of this material is landfilled. Biowaste collection and treatment will become a priority in EU in coming years.

Organization and implementation

This practical course will mimic the full set of composting activities. It includes the contact hours as well as lab and field works. Composting is a chain of actions where one of the most critical is to understand the quality of input waste materials. The main outdoor activity will be setting up a full-scale windrow composting heap in a waste company in Tartu. Students will get a chance to witness the initial phase of biological degradation. Contact hours will include discussions about quality of mature compost and certification under end-of-waste regulation. Also, the students will perform germination tests to understand the plant response. The course will finish by completing an individual assignment.

Indoor activities: cooperation with LLU and FIBL, conventional lectures during contact hours; lab-experiments on setting up cress test and evaluating its preliminary results.

Outdoor activities: cooperation with a waste company in Tartu and FIBL, setting up a full scale compost windrow; hand-picking the content of ‘brown bin’ to determine mass flow and impurities.

Limits: composting takes time. In our case the composting technology will require 2 x 21 d of active composting time, followed by maturation phase. Therefore, we will not witness the actual results of our experimental compost batch. However, the Estonian students will report the final outcome after completion of the particular composting process by summer 2020.

Also, the germination test will take more time than the duration of the course. We will conclude the results of five-day germination, however, the final report of that particular experiments will be completed by Estonian students and reported to participants of the course as follow-up.

3 ECTS will be nominated to students after completion of the assignment.


Every student has to bring two litres of compost. It has to be either from their own University (if its compost yard exists), from city where they study (contact the municipality of waste company) or from city where they live. We will use this compost for quality study, mainly for cress-test. The results (biomass) will allow us to compare composts of various origin, content, and maturity. As prerequisite, one must be able to characterise his/her compost, mainly the content of input material, age of compost and composting technology. 

Distance learning will start three weeks before meeting in person. Organisers will upload Course materials in Dropbox. During contact hours we will discuss theory of biowaste collection, pre-treatment, composting technologies and quality assurance.

Based on distance learning and contact classes, the students will have to present the assignment at EMU which will take place during last day. The final assignments will be uploaded to Dropbox. This completes the course.


Renewal of applications

Nature of the course allows to repeat it in the future by introducing a different type of biowaste, or including different composting technologies, while keeping overall layout unchanged. Location of future courses may well rotate between BOVA Universities.

Courses will be important for participating students’ careers, because valorisation of waste materials remains a priority in EU Circular Economy for many coming years.

Course period:          

Distance learning part  Autumn, 2020 (information will follow)

Meeting in person Autumn, 2020 (information will follow)

Note: Stated date must not be changed without any serious reason

Course venue: Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu

Course leader:            Mait Kriipsalu


Information for registration and scholarship: Consult your local BOVA or NOVA coordinator. 


Please register online:

If you have any questions, please contact BOVA coordinator at EMU:

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: information will follow

Submitted on: Wed, 02/12/2020 - 15:46