Here's how the inoculants work:
Decompositon requires two types of bacteria: aerobic and anaerobic (defined above).
Brown leaves, in particular, demand aerobic bacteria for decomposition because of the high percentage of lignin, a substance resistant to composting. Azotobacter bacteria break down organic matter and also "fix" atmospheric nitrogen in compost, increasing the nitrogen content of the soil up to 40 pounds per acre per year (one pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet).
Also present are thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria that help new piles reach early temperatures of up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. These higher temperatures destroy weed seeds and most pathogenic materials that find their way into the compost.
From Gardener's Supply
There are three types of bacteria that work to digest the materials in a compost pile. They each work best at a particular temperature range.
The psychrophiles like cool temperatures -- even as low as 28F, so they will be doing most of the work during the winter months. As they digest carbon in the organic matter, heat is given off.
When the temperatures rises to 60 to 70F, the mesophilic bacteria take over. They are responsible for most of the deompoosition. If you start a compost pile during mid-summer, the mesophiles may start the process, bypassing the psychrophiles.
If the mesopyhiles have the right food, air, and water, they work so hard at digesting carbon that they raise the temperature above 100F and are replaced by the thermophilic bacteria. It is these bacteria that can raise the temperature high enough to kill disease-causing organismw and weed seeds.
Three to five days of about 155F is long enough for the thermophiles to do their best work. Then the temperature starts to drop, and when it reaches around 90-100F, the compost is ready to use. Or ready to be turned.
These microorganisms further break down the cellulose and lignin, after the faster-acting bacteria make their initial inroads on these resistant materials.
The little-known fungus, mycorrhiza, is a family of organisms that lives on plant roots and is essential to plant growth. The mold inserts its hyphae (threads) directly into the plant's feeder rootlets, conveying food straight to the plant even while making the nutritive substances more assimilable.
These microorganisms comprise a transitional group between bacteria and fungi. They share characteristics with both bacteria and fungi, and start to break down organic matter in the later stages of decay.
Actinomycetes not only reduce lignin and other resistant materials, but also work many feet below the soil surface to make food for deeper-reaching plants. Actinomycetes also secrete digestive enzymes that help decompose cellulose, protein and starch.
Enzymes are natural organic substances produced by the bacteria to break down the complex carbohydrates into simpler forms that the bacteria can use as food. Enzymes, therefore, must be present before bacteria can work. The enzymes in Ringer inoculants trigger the bacteria immediately, greatly accelerating the composting process.
Ringer products contain a high concentration of hemicellulase enzymes that attack stubborn carbohydrates and even the less tractable lignin. They also contain cellulase enzymes that attack cellulose such as wood and plant fibers.
Ringer inoculants contain all of these microorganisms, and many more, in a formulation specific to the complete and rapid decomposition of large quantities of excess garden material - more than 1.4 billion cells of viable, nonpathogenic bacteria per ounce, far more than any similar product.