Grow Your Own, Nevada! Summer 2012: Composting in Small Places

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Grow Your Own, Nevada! Summer 2012: Composting in Small Places

  1. 1. Angela M. O’Callaghan, PhDSocial Horticulture Specialist Associate Professor 2/25/2013 1
  2. 2. Composting: “…the most efficient treatment in producing an environmentally safe and agronomically advantageous soil organic amendment at acceptable operational costs.”Boulter et al. (2000) World J. Microbiology and Biotechnology 2/25/2013 2
  3. 3. COMPOST• organic materials – e.g. lawn clippings, leaves or other landscape waste, fruit and vegetable scraps - are degraded by microorganisms• added into the soil to improve structure, fertility, drainage and water holding capacity 2/25/2013 3
  4. 4. WHY COMPOST?• Many soils have low fertility and/or poor structure• To be productive, nitrogen and other mineral levels must be raised.• Chemical fertilizers can leach into groundwater,  nitrate pollution.• Unless plant residues are returned to the soil, N fertilizers do not improve soil fertility, quality or health 2/25/2013 4
  5. 5. THE WASTE STREAM Of the waste Americans produce –More than ½ is disposed of in land fills –15% is incinerated –Less than 1/3 is reused, recycled or 2/25/2013 composted 52/25/2013
  6. 6. COMPOSTING —THE CIVIC GOOD• Currently 62% of American landfill is green waste which produces toxic methane gas (a greenhouse gas, 26x more potent than CO2) and ammonia leachate• Composting could –Reduce municipal solid waste –Reduce methane emissions 2/25/2013 6 6
  7. 7. US MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE 2009 2/25/2013 7
  8. 8. Compost:• Decreases greenhouse gases• waste  valuable soil amendment• Reduces/prevents erosion• Recycles nutrients back to soil• Retains soil moisture - save water• Reduces haulage costs of green waste• Promotes plant growth• Suppresses plant disease 2/25/2013 8 8
  9. 9. HOW DOES COMPOSTING HAPPEN?• Raw materials need to be chopped or shredded so that soil organisms can reach them.• Microbes “eat” organic matter, taking in large compounds and breaking them into humus and other soil organics. 2/25/2013 9
  10. 10. 2/25/2013 102/25/2013
  11. 11. 2/25/2013 112/25/2013
  12. 12. 2/25/2013 122/25/2013
  13. 13. COMPOST COMPONENTS• Brown--symbolizes the carbon portions; such as paper, dried leaves, and wood (must be shredded)• Green--symbolizes the nitrogen portions; such as grass clippings, leaves and coffee grounds 2/25/2013 13 13
  14. 14. Sawdust 100-500:1 Very high carbon! Paper 150-200:1 Bark 100-130:1 Wheat straw 80:1C Oat straw 74:1 Corn stalks 60:1 Leaves 40-80:1 Carbon Fruit wastes 35:1 Horse manure 25:1 Nitrogen Vegetable wastes 12-20:1 Grass clippings 12-25:1 ratios Apple pomace 21:1N Cow manure 20:1 Coffee grounds 20:1 Alfalfa hay 13:1 Poultry manure, fresh 10:1 Very high nitrogen! 142/25/2013
  15. 15. COMPOST HAPPENS 2/25/2013 15
  16. 16. TYPES OF COMPOSTING• Pile hot Aerobic• Tumblers hot “• Bins hot “• Worm cold “• Trench cold Anaerobic 2/25/2013 16
  17. 17. WHICH IS BEST FOR YOUR SITUATION?1. How much space available?2. How much biodegradable material is available?3. How much compost will be needed?4. How much labor can you/staff reasonably perform? 2/25/2013 17
  18. 18. HOT OR COLD? 2/25/2013 18
  19. 19. A COMPOST PILE - SIMPLE 2/25/2013 19
  20. 20. BUILD A COMPOST PILE1--Place a layer of coarse material several inches thick for drainage on the ground2--Place a layer of high nitrogen material ~3”3--Place a layer of high carbon material ~6”4--Place a layer of garden soil (&/or fertilizer or “compost booster”) ~1”5--Water thoroughly. Repeat numbers 2 through 5 2/25/2013 20 20
  21. 21. TO REPEAT:1--Place a layer of coarse material several inches thick for drainage on the ground2--Place a layer of high nitrogen material ~3 inches3--Place a layer of high carbon material ~6 inches4--Place a 1 inch layer of garden soil, or some fertilizer or “compost booster”5--Water thoroughly. 2/25/2013 21
  22. 22. THE PILE BECOMES COMPOST• Add chopped materials in a general ratio of 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen• Moisten thoroughly• Turn pile to mix ingredients• Take temperature every few days 2/25/2013 22 22
  23. 23. CONTINUED 160• Temperature should rise, then decrease 150 140• degrees (approx) Turn again after temperature drops 130 120• Don‟t turn more than every 3 days 110 100• Takes up to 3 months, depending 90 80 70 60 e k ity rn r g g ly o te er in lin r tu co tiv la ea th ok o to ac to tle co ng co e ng lit ak t ti tim e or ge pe ti ar m st 2/25/2013 23
  24. 24. BUILDING YOUR COMPOST 2/25/2013 24
  25. 25. 3 feet 3 feet 25 2/25/2013
  26. 26. TURN THE PILE – OR NOT?• Pile can be turned regularly using a garden fork or a special auger - Or• Pile can be constructed, mixed once and left to degrade slowly - Or• Pile can be constructed in layers (lasagna) and left to degrade very slowly 2/25/2013 26 26
  27. 27. THE ABSOLUTELY SIMPLEST PILE• This passive approach will compost very slowly, and can result in odors escaping if disturbed before completion 27 2/25/2013
  28. 28. FOR LARGE AMOUNTS OF COMPOST 2/25/2013 28
  29. 29. Aerated static pileIn an Aerated static pile air is introduced to thestacked pile via perforated pipes and blowers.This method requires no labor to turn compostbut is weather sensitive, and can have unreliablepathogen reduction due to imperfect mixing. 2/25/2013 29
  30. 30. ADDING SOIL?• Plant disease organisms may be present in soil• These almost always live only on living plant tissue• There’s no living plant tissue in compost• Temperatures in compost “cooking” process kill disease organisms. 2/25/2013 30 30
  31. 31. HOWEVER…• Plants that are infected with disease, or that are infested with insects, should not be composted• Why ask for trouble? 2/25/2013 31
  32. 32. OTHER MICROBE SOURCES• Commercial products are available• Bacterial spores• Increasing population of microorganisms increases rate of composting 2/25/2013 32
  33. 33. TUMBLERS 2/25/2013 33 33
  34. 34. TUMBLERS• Have the simplicity of a pile• Compost is enclosed• Easy to turn• MAY BE TOO EASY – Turning too often prevents the mix from reaching good composting temperatures 2/25/2013 34
  35. 35. TUMBLER COMPOSTINGSimilar to pile composting:• Add chopped materials in a general ratio of 30 to 1 (C/N) ratio• Moisten thoroughly• Turn tumbler to mix ingredients• Take temperature every few days• Temperature should rise, then decrease• Turn again after temperatures drop• Don‟t turn more than every 3 days 2/25/2013 35 35
  36. 36. 2/25/2013 36
  37. 37. BINS 2/25/2013 37 37
  38. 38. BINS VARY WILDLY• Enclosed• Use fork or auger for turning• May have door for easy removal of finished compost 2/25/2013 38 38
  39. 39. 3 – BIN SYSTEM Fill with raw When first is Either holds1st bin 2nd bin 3rd bin materials filled, start materials or gets Allow to second filled after compost Allow to second Turn as with pile compost Allow to Turn first bin compost, turning also first & second 3x3x3 3x3x3 3x3x3 2/25/2013 39 39
  40. 40. IN-VESSEL SYSTEMSThis involves using perforated barrels, drums, ormanufactured containers that are simple to use, easyto turn, require minimal labor, are not weathersensitive, and can be used in urban and public areas.The initial investment can be high and handlingvolumes low. 40 2/25/2013
  41. 41. DIFFERENT METHODS Electric heat & regular agitation NOT exactly compostinghttp://www.naturemill.com/video_histChan.html 2/25/2013 41 41
  42. 42. COOL COMPOSTING 2/25/2013 42
  43. 43. WORMS2/25/2013 43
  44. 44. COMPOST WORMS• Red wigglers (Eisinia foetida)• Hungrier and tolerate higher temperatures than „nightcrawlers‟• Very fast degrading of materials• Worms eat raw materials• May eat their own weight daily 2/25/2013 44
  45. 45. WORMS, CONT.• Foodstuff ground in gizzard• Microorganisms in worms themselves and in degrading materials also involved• Little heat generated• compost = worm castings 2/25/2013 45
  46. 46. MANAGING WORMS• Starting materials must be moist• Higher N than other methods• C/N ration not important• Must be protected from heat and cold• Must not get dry!• Many, many worms in 1 pound! 2/25/2013 46 46
  47. 47. WORM BIN Under cover 2/25/2013 47
  48. 48. 2/25/2013 48
  49. 49. ANAEROBIC 2/25/2013 49
  50. 50. TRENCHSlowerAnaerobic microbes do work Bury starter material near new garden Add small amount of fertilizer C/N ratio not critical Will smell bad if opened before complete 2/25/2013 50
  51. 51. BOKASHI• Demo 2/25/2013 51
  52. 52. DON’T COMPOST THESE!!! – Plant with severe – Butter disease or insect – Cheese infestations – Lard – Noxious or succulent – Grease weeds – Mayonnaise – Grasses that spread by – Milk rhizomes – Peanut butter – Dog and cat manure – Oils – Meat or fish leftovers – Salad dressing – Bones – Sour cream 2/25/2013 – Whole eggs 52
  53. 53. TOOLS2/25/2013 53
  54. 54. HOW MUCH TIME?Preparation –• for a small system, 5 to 20 minutes/week• for a landscape, will vary with – the amount of material composted – number of people attending to process (turning, etc.) 2/25/2013 54 54
  55. 55. COMPOST IS COMPLETEDFrom a few weeks to a few months, dependingon•Composition and preparation of feedstock•Turning regime•Outdoor temperature 2/25/2013 55
  56. 56. HINTS FOR SUCCESS• Include oxygen in the mixture to support aerobic organisms that break down the materials (STIR)• Don‟t stir too often, or it won‟t get hot enough to compost.• Mix materials on a regular basis• Aeration will cut down odors 2/25/2013 56 56
  57. 57. PROBLEMS TO CONFRONT• Dry air – Always keep lightly moistened• Hot – Place in a shady space if possible – Always have a cover• Insects• Odors 2/25/2013 57 57
  58. 58.  Bugs happen. They benefit compost & help to expedite process by breaking down starting material No pesticides! Can kill bugs and worms Freeze starting material before putting in composter to decrease flies and other insects If roaches are a big problem, put DE on top of pile 58 2/25/2013
  59. 59.  Compost should smell like fresh soil Foul smells may be due to  Anaerobic conditions – stir to add oxygen  Too much green or large green clumps – add some browns and stir well Alwaysmake the top layer of the compost brown 2/25/2013 59
  60. 60. ODORS• Too much green or large green clumps• Needs oxygen• Bury the scraps - put a layer of brown on top (use uncomposted material for the brown if you don‟t have any)• stir the pot• Throw in some brown and stir well
  61. 61. NOT COMPOSTING???Possible causes:• Turned too often, heat doesn’t generate• Not turned often enough, process is very slow• Too much carbon, no food for microbes• Pile too small, microbes can’t get established 2/25/2013 61 61
  62. 62. HYGIENE• Compost is rarely a disease risk• To reduce these remote risks: –Wear gloves when handling –Wash your hands after handling –Cover any cuts on hands or arms –Don’t sniff compost deeply, especially if • your immune system is suppressed (HIV/AIDS, chemo/radiation, organ transplant anti-rejection drugs) • You have asthma, emphysema, etc. 2/25/2013 62
  63. 63. IT’S FINISHED WHEN IT:• has no chunks of undecomposed matter• is dark• does not feel “slick”• compresses into a ball when pressed in the hand 2/25/2013 63 63
  64. 64. USING THE FINISHED PRODUCT• When to apply it?• Just before planting.• Where?• Into soil of planting bed 2/25/2013 64 64
  65. 65. USING COMPOST• Incorporate about 1 – 3 inches of compost into top soil.• Mix thoroughly.• Plant as usual• Or place it on top of soil and allow it to work its way into the soil.• Or – make a slurry and apply 2/25/2013 65 – demo
  66. 66. COMPOST TEA• A brew of compost in water• ~ one part compost to five parts water 2/25/2013 66 66
  67. 67. COMPOST TEA, CONT.• High in nitrogen and other nutrients• Soluble nutrients are released immediately• Antibiotic and antifungal properties are released over the longer course of brewing 2/25/2013 67
  68. 68. COMPOST TEA (CONT.)Properties vary with:1. Starting materials2. Length of brewing time3. Level of aeration and stirring • Insufficient air will cause it to go anaerobic and smell foul 2/25/2013 68 68
  69. 69. MANY SYSTEMS, BUT BASICALLY -• Stir/aerate• Allow to settle• Dilute to a tea color• Use tea as – Fertilizer – Disease controller 2/25/2013 69 69
  70. 70. 702/25/2013
  71. 71. APPLYING COMPOST TEA 2/25/2013 71
  72. 72. SUMMARYCompost• Is a terrific source of plant nutrients• Is a source of many beneficial microorganisms• May control plant disease, both as compost and tea• Lowers the amount of organic garbage going to the landfill. 72
  73. 73. RESOURCEShttp://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/benefits.htmhttp://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=6288 2/25/2013 73
  74. 74. DREAM COMPOSTER• http://earthfirst.com/magic-marvelous- compost-bin-video/ 2/25/2013 74
  75. 75. LEE HAYS ON COMPOSTING • If I should die before I wake, All my bones and sinew take; Put me in the compost pile, And decompose me for a while. • Wind, water, rain will have their way, Returning me to common clay! All that I am will feed the trees, and little fishes in the seas. • On radishes and corn you munch-- You might be having me for lunch! And then excrete me with a grin-- Chortling, "There goes Lee again!!" 75http://compost.css.cornell.edu/yourself.html 2/25/2013

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