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Making compost in 50 ton increments
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Making compost in 50 ton increments

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Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms makes CMC compost

Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms makes CMC compost

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  • 07/16/96 * ##
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  • 07/16/96 * ## Herbert ranch in Hollister, CA
  • 07/16/96 * ## Paunch manure and mulch hay ready for composting
  • 07/16/96 * ## laying out the mulch hay for turning, crushed stone driving paths for the tractor.
  • 07/16/96 * ##
  • 07/16/96 * ## A mobile grinding service processing wood wastes at a farm compost site
  • 07/16/96 * ## Generally you’re talking about a 6 to 8 week period for producing finished compost. The word finished is determined by 12 different test parameters that determine the end quality and readiness to spread
  • 07/16/96 * ##
  • 07/16/96 * ## Premixing the straw bales
  • 07/16/96 * ## Layering paunch manure and barn manure. Always the dry porous material on the bottom and wet heavy material on top.
  • 07/16/96 * ## Building windrows with various organic wastes
  • 07/16/96 * ## Adding soil and rock dust (for trace minerals and clay colloids)
  • 07/16/96 * ## Adding paramagnetic rock dust to piles
  • 07/16/96 * ##
  • 07/16/96 * ## Commericial composting facility in Europe (Switzerland)
  • 07/16/96 * ## Turning a windrow with small Self-propelled turner
  • 07/16/96 * ## Rolling up fleece covers on farm site
  • 07/16/96 * ## Windrows just shortly after turning
  • 07/16/96 * ## Finished compost
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  • 07/16/96 * ##
  • 07/16/96 * ## Bedding plants grown on compost potting mix
  • 07/16/96 * ## Root celery grown in compost amended soil
  • 07/16/96 * ## Strawberry plugs using compost
  • 07/16/96 * ##
  • 07/16/96 * ## Once again all compost is not created equal,
  • 07/16/96 * ##
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  • 07/16/96 * ## Unfortunately the word “compost” has been bastardized in many instances by operations more interested in waste disposal than soil building. Good compost processes all the positive characteristics of humus, and none of the negatives associated with an undesirable waste product
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  • 07/16/96 * ## Will go into further detail
  • 07/16/96 * ## Basically any organic material can be composted, meaning carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur compounds. The main emphasis here is to strive for clean materials, remember the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out”. Free of physical contaminants as well as chemical ones such as heavy metals. Compost has no problem breaking down biological compounds.
  • 07/16/96 * ## “ Motivation” for doing something, although seemingly intangible, plays a big factor in the final quality of the compost. While ideally all of the above objectives can be obtained by composting, more often than not the emphasis for handling quantity rather than quality affects the finished product
  • 07/16/96 * ## There's no secret formula, but generally the more you put into it, the more you will get out. What I like to emphasize is that its going to take 80% of the effort to produce a mediocre product, so why not go the extra mile and produce quality?
  • 07/16/96 * ##

Making compost in 50 ton increments Making compost in 50 ton increments Presentation Transcript

  • Farm ScaleCompostingWhat’s it take to makecompost in 50 tonincrements?
  • Basics of Composting –billions of tiny livestock!• Air – O₂ specifically• Water – not too much, not too little• Food• Shelter
  • Basics of Composting –billions of tiny livestock!• Air – O₂ specifically ▫ Turning machine• Water – not too much, not too little ▫ Watering unit on turner ▫ Compost covers• Food ▫ Materials, achieving 30:1 C:N ratio• Shelter ▫ Compost covers ▫ Covered composting area ▫ Materials that provide structure (plenty of fiber)
  • What do you need to do this?• Turning machine• Composting pad/site• Monitoring equipment (thermometer, CO₂ meter)• Skid loader or bucket/tractor to build piles
  • Compost Pad• Flat from side to side• 3% slope along the length of the windrows• Something to help you have traction: gravel, pavement• Easy access to water• Materials storage area• Easy truck access
  • Materials“Green” or wet, Nitrogen rich “Brown” or dry, carbon rich• Manure • Hay• Green chop • Straw• Food waste • Paper• Really good hay (alfalfa) • Leaves• Fresh Grass clippings • Woodchips (tub ground!)• Carcasses
  • Goal = 30:1
  • Tub grinder for woody materials
  • Specifics of ControlledMicrobial Composting-Leubke method • Windrows • Turning machine • Compost covers • 5-10% soil • Temp and CO₂ readings • Finished compost isn’t ready until it’s below 90 degrees F
  • Tend the Pile• Air – measure the CO₂• Water• Temperature
  • Measure CO₂
  • Measure CO₂
  • Adding O₂, removing CO₂ = Turning thePile
  • Temperature Goal is 150°F, or 66° C
  • Add water if needed
  • Keep the rain offPiles are coveredwith a breathablepolypropylene fabric(Top-Tex) toregulate moistureand control leachate
  • Keep it tidy
  • The goal
  • Compost extras• Microbial inoculants• Rock powders: ▫ Rock phosphate ▫ Azomite
  • Spreader
  • GOOD COMPOST = Good Roots
  • AND. . .•Good Roots Grow Good Crops!
  • Remember:• Composting Must Be a Controlled Process! Only with the best possible compost will one improve the biological, physical, and chemical characteristics of their soil. The result is increased fertility and disease resistance, as well as a reduced dependence purchased inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Costs of Production for 50 tonsLabor Materials• Pile building 12 hours • Hay = free• Turning (60 x .75) 45 hours • Leaves = free• TOTAL: 57 hrs x $15 = $855 • Soil = free• • Manure = $700• Equipment ▫ 57 hours x $25 = $1425 Labor + equipment + materials = $2980 $2980 divided by 50 tons = $60 per ton 50 tons = 83 yards, $2980/83 = $36 per yard
  • Why Bother?• Someone has to do it! (local suppliers are few and far between and the quality is most likely poor)• You know you should• You have materials that need to be dealt with, and this is the most eco-friendly way
  • Not All Compost isCreated Equal • It wasn’t really aerobic! • Disease inducing vs. disease suppressing qualities • Unfinished compost can be toxic to plants • Inefficient conversion of nutrients (they washed or wafted away)
  • You know you should, or what’s sogreat about compost?• Nutrient delivery system – doles them out as the plants need them• Organic matter addition – stable humus• Neutralizes soil toxins and harmful compounds• Inoculates soil with beneficial microbes• Replaces less sustainable, less beneficial inputs
  • Benefits of increasing OM• ↑ Nutrient holding capacity• ↑ water holding capacity• ↑ soil aggregation and thus friability• ↑ drainage• ↓ bulk density, meaning ↑soil air• ↑ biological activity
  • Biological Activity• It’s all about the microbes – they are the ones running the show, in relationship with the plant.• Why not stack the deck in your favor and support the soil food web which depends on OM for fuel/food?
  • Components of Healthy Soil
  • Organic Matter Composition
  • What InfluencesCompost Quality? • Variety & quality of source materials • Reasons for composting – point of view • Level & type of management
  • Source Materials• Animal Manures & Other Agricultural Wastes• Yard Wastes and Grass Clippings• Food Processing Waste• Urban Wastes, Sludges
  • Reasons To Compost • Use on-farm for soil building • Salable product • Farm waste handling • Profit from tipping fees?
  • Level of Management• Proper mix of materials• Size and structure of windrow• Turning method• Are your piles really aerobic?• Regulating moisture• Determining when piles are finished
  • Legal considerations• County regs – waste handling facility?• Tipping fees• Water (nutrient) management