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Soil: The Carbon/Nitrogen Raio

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The carbon/nitrogen ratio


If you are a compost nerd, you might already know that the ideal ratio of carbon to nitrogen in a compost pile is about 30:1. A pile with that balance of materials will rot steadily, and it will yield nutrient-rich compost.

But how do you know what your pile's ratio is? "The most important factor in estimating the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is how much water is present," explains Eric Evans, Ph.D., laboratory director of Woods End Research Laboratory in Mt. Vernon, Maine. "Dry materials are generally in the range of 40 to 50 percent carbon, and sloppy, wet materials are generally 10 to 20 percent carbon." Here are the specifics on many common materials. After you've scanned through these, you'll see how to calculate your pile's exact Carbon/Nitrogen ratio.

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