Decomposition occurs when microbes break down organic matter. This process usually requires aeration because bacteria and fungi need oxygen to break down the material. This is why aeration is so important in composting; the pile must be turned to expose oxygen to the material that is lacking in it. There are bacteria that don’t require oxygen for respiration, but aerobic bacteria are preferred for composting.
The decomposition of matter is typically performed by aerobic organisms (needing oxygen), therefore aeration is needed to help the organisms perform their task more quickly and efficiently, especially at higher temperatures. Aeration also aids in odor control of the compost heap, all that decomposition can get a bit unpleasant.
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