Brian's family has a compost pile at home. They put all the weeds they pull up from the garden in it as well as any vegetable waste they gather from the kitchen. If they keep it moist, all this vegetation will eventually turn into organic soil by the chemical process of decay. Since decay involves a variety of chemical reactions, how might temperature affect the rate at which the compost turns into soil? A. Temperatures near freezing would make it speed up. B. It would happen faster at warmer air temperatures. C. Changing temperatures would not affect the chemical reactions. D. Warm summer air temperatures would make it slow down.
Decomposition of organic matter is largely due to the decay process of decomposers. A decomposer is defined as an organism (such as a fungus or bacterium) that decomposes organic matter. Decomposers are living things. Thus, they survive in an optimal range of temperatures. Specifically, the optimal rate of decomposition of organic matter lies within the temperature range of 30 to 40 degrees Celsius. Temperatures above or below this range slow down the rate of decomposition. Thus, the answer should be option (b) - the rate of organic decomposition would happen faster at warmer temperatures.
Temperature is not the only factor that affects the rate of decomposition. The pH, aeration, moisture content, and carbon-to-nitrogen ratio also have an effect. The link below describes how these factors affect the rate of organic decomposition.