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O.G.S. 2014 On-Farm Composting Mark Langner MAYTime Composting Burnsville, NC.

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Presentation on theme: "O.G.S. 2014 On-Farm Composting Mark Langner MAYTime Composting Burnsville, NC."— Presentation transcript:

1 O.G.S On-Farm Composting Mark Langner MAYTime Composting Burnsville, NC

2 MAYTime Composting

3 Mark Langner BA, Psychology; MA, Counseling. BA, Psychology; MA, Counseling. 25-year Career in Computers. 25-year Career in Computers. Life-Long Gardener and Bad Composter. Life-Long Gardener and Bad Composter. Then I Married A Horse Owner. Then I Married A Horse Owner. Compost Bays, Worm Bins, Aerated Bays. Compost Bays, Worm Bins, Aerated Bays. Community Garden (2009). Community Garden (2009). Owner and Founder, MAYTime Composting Systems, Burnsville NC. (2011) Owner and Founder, MAYTime Composting Systems, Burnsville NC. (2011) USCC Compost Operations Training (2011). USCC Compost Operations Training (2011).

4 What Is Compost? A Story… A Story… Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and stabilized by bacterial and fungal processes, becoming a material that is beneficial to plant growth. (USCC Def.) Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and stabilized by bacterial and fungal processes, becoming a material that is beneficial to plant growth. (USCC Def.) Properly done, the composting process kills harmful organisms and weed seeds. Properly done, the composting process kills harmful organisms and weed seeds. A Diversity of LIFE – The “Soil Food Web”. A Diversity of LIFE – The “Soil Food Web”.

5 What We’re Gonna Cover… Review the Basics Review the Basics And Some of the Complexities And Some of the Complexities Some Legal Aspects (NC) Some Legal Aspects (NC) Organic Standards Organic Standards Technology Technology Resources Resources

6 NC: The Letter of the Law In NC: NO Permit Required For: In NC: NO Permit Required For: (1) Backyard composting. (1) Backyard composting. (2) Farming operations and silvicultural operations where the compost is produced from materials grown on the owner's land and re-used on the owner's land or in his associated farming operations and not offered to the public. (2) Farming operations and silvicultural operations where the compost is produced from materials grown on the owner's land and re-used on the owner's land or in his associated farming operations and not offered to the public. (3) Small Type 1 Facilities meeting [a list of] conditions. (Type 1 means you can compost yard, garden, and wood waste. ) (3) Small Type 1 Facilities meeting [a list of] conditions. (Type 1 means you can compost yard, garden, and wood waste. )

7 NC: Law as Implemented Special Rules for “Urban Farms” and Community Gardens: Special Rules for “Urban Farms” and Community Gardens: Tier 1: No Imported Materials? No Permit Required Tier 1: No Imported Materials? No Permit Required Tier 2: Less Than 1 Cu Yd / Week Imported “Nitrogenous” Materials – No Permit Required Tier 2: Less Than 1 Cu Yd / Week Imported “Nitrogenous” Materials – No Permit Required Tier 3: 1 Cu / Yd or More Per Week – Demo Permit (Annual) Tier 3: 1 Cu / Yd or More Per Week – Demo Permit (Annual)

8 Compost – Essential Ingredients For Good Compost Carbon (“Brown stuff”) Carbon (“Brown stuff”) “Available” Carbon vs. “Unavailable “ “Available” Carbon vs. “Unavailable “ Nitrogen (“Green Stuff”) Nitrogen (“Green Stuff”) C and N in organic compounds! C and N in organic compounds! Oxygen Oxygen H2O H2O BALANCE! BALANCE!

9 Carbon-Rich Materials Leaves – At Least Some! Leaves – At Least Some! C:N Ratio Varies Widely C:N Ratio Varies Widely Oak Leaves: 60:1 to 200:1 (depends on who you ask!) Oak Leaves: 60:1 to 200:1 (depends on who you ask!) Maple Leaves: 30:1 – Ideal “As Is” Maple Leaves: 30:1 – Ideal “As Is” Sawdust, Wood Chips Sawdust, Wood Chips Available C! – Particle Size and Surface Area. Available C! – Particle Size and Surface Area. Straw, Corn Stalks Straw, Corn Stalks Paper / Cardboard Paper / Cardboard

10 Nitrogen-Rich Materials Cow Manure Cow Manure Blood Meal Blood Meal Fresh Grass Clippings Fresh Grass Clippings Horse Manure? Sheep? Llama? Goat? Horse Manure? Sheep? Llama? Goat? Some of These Are Closer to 30:1 Some of These Are Closer to 30:1 Food Waste? Yes, BUT 90% Water. Food Waste? Yes, BUT 90% Water.

11 Balance! C:N Ratio C:N Ratio 20:1 to 40:1 20:1 to 40:1 “Ideal” is 30:1 “Ideal” is 30:1 Too much N? Too much N? Pile Can Overheat Pile Can Overheat Smell of Ammonia – and Loss of N Smell of Ammonia – and Loss of N Not enough N? Not enough N? Cool Pile Cool Pile Longer to Break Down Longer to Break Down

12 Balance! C:N of 30:1 – How Do You Know? C:N of 30:1 – How Do You Know? NC Department of Agriculture Waste Analysis Report. NC Department of Agriculture Waste Analysis Report. Real-Life Example: Horse Stall Cleanout. Real-Life Example: Horse Stall Cleanout.

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14 Balance! Not Enough O2? Not Enough O2? Anaerobic Digestion Anaerobic Digestion Produces Methane Produces Methane Does Not Heat Up Does Not Heat Up Too Much O2? Too Much O2? Cools Down Pile Cools Down Pile Too Much H2O? Too Much H2O? Pile Becomes too Dense = Not Enough O2! Pile Becomes too Dense = Not Enough O2!

15 Balance! Aim For 50-70% Moisture Content Aim For 50-70% Moisture Content How do you know? How do you know? “Squeeze Test”. “Squeeze Test”. Should Feel Like a Damp or Very Damp Sponge. Should Feel Like a Damp or Very Damp Sponge. Should Hold Together. Should Hold Together. A few drops of water? OK. A few drops of water? OK. Lots of water? Too wet. Lots of water? Too wet.

16 Other Measurements Bulk Density Bulk Density Target Range: 800 – 1200 lbs / cu yd. Target Range: 800 – 1200 lbs / cu yd. Too Dense? Can’t Get O2! Too Dense? Can’t Get O2! High Tech Bulk Density Tester: High Tech Bulk Density Tester: 5-Gallon Bucket: Fill 1/3, Drop, Repeat Twice. 5-Gallon Bucket: Fill 1/3, Drop, Repeat Twice. Multiply Weight by 40. Multiply Weight by – 30 Lbs = 800 – 1200 lbs / Cu.Yd. 20 – 30 Lbs = 800 – 1200 lbs / Cu.Yd.

17 Other Measurements pH – Best is Near Neutral. pH – Best is Near Neutral. High N Can Mean Low pH. High N Can Mean Low pH. Composting Process Tends to Bring pH Toward Neutral. Composting Process Tends to Bring pH Toward Neutral. Avoid Adding Wood Ash and Lime. Avoid Adding Wood Ash and Lime. Lime Causes N to be Released. Lime Causes N to be Released. Amend pH AFTER Compost is Finished. Amend pH AFTER Compost is Finished.

18 Putting it ALL Together: Balancing C:N, Density, H20, etc. SOP Method. SOP Method. Compost Calculators on the Web: Compost Calculators on the Web: Green Mountain Technologies Green Mountain Technologies

19 Composting Phases 1) Thermophilic. 131 F and Above 1) Thermophilic. 131 F and Above Can Last 1-2 months Can Last 1-2 months 2) Mesophilic F 2) Mesophilic F 1-2 months 1-2 months 3) Curing / Ageing – Three to Six Months 3) Curing / Ageing – Three to Six Months “Raw” Compost Can Have High Soluble Salt Content and “Burn” Plants. “Raw” Compost Can Have High Soluble Salt Content and “Burn” Plants.

20 Target Temps

21 Temperature Targets: 1) PFRP – Process to Further Reduce Pathogens (Thermophilic Phase) 1) PFRP – Process to Further Reduce Pathogens (Thermophilic Phase) Windrows: 21 Days at 55C (131F) with Five Turnings Windrows: 21 Days at 55C (131F) with Five Turnings Closed Vessels: 3 Days at 55C / 131F Closed Vessels: 3 Days at 55C / 131F 2) Additional 14 days at 45C / 105F + 2) Additional 14 days at 45C / 105F + Mesphilic Phase Mesphilic Phase

22 Organic Standards (USDA) Must Meet Temperature Requirements. Must Meet Temperature Requirements. Monitor Temps, O2 Levels, Times, H2O, etc. Monitor Temps, O2 Levels, Times, H2O, etc. Other Testing Requirements for Stability, Contaminants, Pathogens. Other Testing Requirements for Stability, Contaminants, Pathogens. No Synthetics. No Synthetics. “Hit List” of Forbidden Chemicals. “Hit List” of Forbidden Chemicals. Document: USDA NOP 5021 Document: USDA NOP 5021

23 Composting Setups

24 Simple Bin

25

26 Windrows

27 Aerated Static Pile

28 Aerated Bay (Closed Vessel)

29 Aerated Bay (Detail)

30

31 Tiny Aerobic Digesters

32 Potential Problems: Pile Does Not Heat Up Check Bulk Density Check Bulk Density Check Moisture Content Check Moisture Content Too Dry - OR Too Wet! Too Dry - OR Too Wet! C:N Ratio (Too Much C?). C:N Ratio (Too Much C?).

33 Potential Problems: Pile Overheats Temps Above 160F Kill Off Beneficial Bacteria Temps Above 160F Kill Off Beneficial Bacteria Temps Above 170F Can Lead to Spontaneous Combustion (esp. in Large Piles) Temps Above 170F Can Lead to Spontaneous Combustion (esp. in Large Piles) C:N Ratio: Too Much N? C:N Ratio: Too Much N? Aerated Piles: Increase Flow / Frequency of Aeration. Aerated Piles: Increase Flow / Frequency of Aeration. Others: Turn! Others: Turn!

34 Potential Problems: Odors

35 Odor Control Bury Odorous Materials ASAP. (This Also Helps Control Vectors.) Bury Odorous Materials ASAP. (This Also Helps Control Vectors.) Maintain O2 Levels. Maintain O2 Levels. Weather: Don’t Turn Piles in Misty or Foggy Conditions (Mornings). Weather: Don’t Turn Piles in Misty or Foggy Conditions (Mornings). Choose Your Site! 200+ Ft. From Dwellings. Choose Your Site! 200+ Ft. From Dwellings.

36 Other Equipment Screening Equipment. Screening Equipment. Remove Un-Composted Material (as in Wood Chips) Remove Un-Composted Material (as in Wood Chips) Comes in Two Sizes: Tiny and Gigantic Comes in Two Sizes: Tiny and Gigantic DIY DIY Thermometer. Thermometer. O2 Gauge. O2 Gauge.

37 Questions? WithCompost No Compost

38 Resources Field Guide to On-Farm Composting (www.nraes.org) Field Guide to On-Farm Composting (www.nraes.org)www.nraes.org NCDENR NCDENR USCC USCC Copy of This Presentation: Copy of This Presentation:


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