COMPOSTING [Autosaved]2

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Learn the ins and outs of composting. What makes a good compost pile? Greens and browns--what does it mean? Temperature, moisture--save yourself time and trouble and have black gold for your garden!

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COMPOSTING :

COMPOSTING PRESENTATION BY BOB BAYER

COMPOSTING:

COMPOSTING What is Composting and Compost ? What can be Composted ? Elements of Composting. Meet Your Microbes Composting Methods Build a Pile Managing a Compost System How To Use Compost

What is Composting & Compost:

What is Composting & Compost COMPOSTING is the Controlled process of assisting Macro and Micro Organisms to Decompose Organic Matter with the end Result Being a Humus Rich Soil Additive. COMPOST is partially decomposed organic matter HUMUS is completely decomposed organic matter

Benefits & Uses of Compost:

Benefits & Uses of Compost Improves soil condition and structure Increases the soil’s ability to hold water & nutrients Supports living soil organisms Helps dissolve mineral forms of nutrients Buffers soil from chemical imbalances May provide biological control of certain pests Helps return organic materials to the soil and keeps them out of landfills and waterways

What Can be Composted ?:

What Can be Composted ? Anything that was once a plant. GREENS and BROWNS All materials contain both carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Microbes need both of these as a food source. The ratio between these two is called the carbon to nitrogen ratio ( C:N) GREENS= Nitrogen source ( C:N less than 30:1 ) High in moisture fast to decompose. Grass, veggie scrapes. BROWNS= Carbon source (C:N more than 30:1) Dry, slow to decompose. Leaves, straw, paper, twigs.

Elements of Composting:

Elements of Composting Happy microbes make the best compost Microbes have similar needs as people, these are important for rapid and efficient composting Moisture Aeration Pile Temperature Particle Size Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio

MOISTURE:

MOISTURE Compost should be kept moist but not soggy. Microbes need moisture to survive. Compost should have the feeling of a damp sponge. If the material is too wet, it will compact. Compacted compost lacks oxygen. (anaerobic) Anaerobic condition slows process& causes foul odors. Turn a compost pile that becomes too wet, it will dry out and add oxygen.

AERATION:

AERATION Aerobic microbes need oxygen to survive. They need oxygen to efficiently breakdown materials. Under ideal conditions, they may deplete the oxygen. Turning the pile is important for proper aeration. You can also aerate by adding some bulky items. Bulky items are; oak leaves, chipped twigs, pine straw. Create passageways for air to enter the pile, using an aeration tool, rebar , a piece of pipe or a vent stack. Probe in several places.

PILE TEMPERATURE:

PILE TEMPERATURE Happy microbes will cause the pile temperature to rise through their metabolism, reproduction and conversion of composting material to energy. Maintaining a minimum temperature of 131 °F. For 3 days will destroy weed seeds and plant pathogens. To reach these temperatures, proper food balance, pile size of approximately one cubic yard and adequate air and moisture are required.

PARTICLE SIZE:

PARTICLE SIZE Not too big, Not too small but just the right size. Small limbs and twigs should be chipped to 2-3 inches. Wet materials and sawdust can compact if not mixed with other materials. Smaller materials have more surface area for the microbes to attack, which will speed up decomposing. Chopping leaves with the lawn mower before putting them in the pile will reduce their volume.

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio:

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio Ideal C:N ratio is 30: 1 as a dry weight measure. Understanding how the greens and browns affect the compost process is more important. Veg. trimmings 12-20:1 Veg. Table Scraps 15: 1 Coffee grounds 20: 1 Cow Manure 20: 1 Grass clippings 20: 1 Green Oak Leaves 26: 1 Fruit Waste 35: 1 Peat Moss 58: 1 Leaves 60: 1 Pine Needles 60-110: 1 Newspaper 50-200: 1 Sawdust/Wood 600: 1

Meet Your Microbes:

Meet Your Microbes “Aerobic” is composting with oxygen loving microbes. “Anaerobic” is composting without Oxygen. Both systems will break down organic matter, but aerobic is faster, hotter, easier to manage and doesn’t create objectionable odors. (It don’t Stink) Three Classes of Aerobic bacteria; (chemical decomp) Psychrophiles – low temperature 0-70° F Mesophiles – medium temperature 70- 100° F Thermophiles – high temperature 100- 140° F +

Other Decomposers:

Other Decomposers Fungi and actinomycetes - Microorganisms, chemical decomposers, operate during medium heat phase. Mites, centipedes, sow bugs, snails, millipedes, slugs, springtails, spiders, beetles, ants, flies, nematodes, flatworms , rotifers and earthworms. Physical decomposers grind, bite, suck, tear and chew. These are the Macroorganisms ;

Composting Methods:

Composting Methods Cold or “Slow” Sheet- aka: mulching. Organic material is placed on the soil surface and allowed to decompose naturally. Trench- Dig an 8” deep trench , fill with 4’’ of kitchen scraps or other organic plant waste. Will not heat enough to kill weed seeds or plant pathogens. Cold Bin – Fill the bin halfway with browns and bury kitchen scraps. After 1 month, start layering scraps, cover with browns and a little soil. Keep adding material throughout the year. When full, start second.

Composting Methods:

Composting Methods Continued: Heap - A compost heap is just a pile that can be anywhere in the garden. Less tidy or neat as a bin but still works. When adequately decomposed just rake into the garden. Hot or “Fast” Will yield the fastest rate of composting and will best control weed seed and plant pathogens. It will take a considerable amount of attention and several elements to be successful.

Hot or “Fast” Elements:

Hot or “Fast” Elements A minimum of 1 cubic yard of material A blend of greens and browns(C:N ratio) Proper Moisture Content Frequent turning to provide aeration Particle size of less than 2”-3” Provide these elements for the organisms and they will repay your efforts by making a soil additive that will improve your soil and increase your plant yield.

Build a Pile:

Build a Pile Sandwich Method - Alternate 3”-4” layers of greens and browns. Water each layer as you build. End with brown. Mix-it Method -Mix the greens and browns prior to adding to the pile. This will prevent compaction that may restrict water flow and oxygen. Adding More – Adding greens will speed-up the process, browns will slow it down and cool the pile. Additions should be made when you are turning the pile or may be buried. At some point stop. Start new.

Managing a Compost System:

Managing a Compost System Managing involves four basic activities: Monitoring Mixing & Turning Finishing/Curing Screening Monitoring Smell Turn if there are any odors. Add browns if odor persists. Use brown layer on top.

Managing a Compost System:

Managing a Compost System Monitoring Moisture Add moisture as you BUILD or TURN the pile. If too wet - Turn (no water) Still to wet-add browns Monitoring Temperature Turn if the pile is less than 100° F Turn if the pile is more than 150° F Thermophilic bacteria prefer temperatures in the 105-140°F range. If the pile exceeds 155°F, the heat may kill part of the microbe population Mixing and Turning -Adds Oxygen, Helps destroy undesirables, Stops odors, Breaks up clumps.

Finishing and Curing:

Finishing and Curing If you are always adding material to the pile how do you create a finished product ? Make your compost in batches. As the bin reaches near full capacity, stop adding and allow a curing period. During the curing or finishing period the pile will cool and earthworms and other physical decomposer invertebrates will assist with the process. Continue to keep the pile moist and aerated during this time.

Screening Compost:

Screening Compost Many times larger items may not breakdown as quickly as others. You may choose to screen these “ overs ” from the rest of the pile and use them for sheet composting or they can be used to provide bulk for aeration in your next pile. In either case, there are microbes attached to this material and it will help jump start the new process.

How to use Compost:

How to use Compost Soil Amendment (Use only finished compost) Prior to planting, apply 1-3 inches of compost to the soil surface and work into the top 3-4” of soil. Organic matter is critical to plant development and growth. Most of our sandy soils lack sufficient amounts. Because our soils rarely freeze, microbial activity continues almost year round and organic matter is quickly used up. It is advisable to add organic matter yearly.

How to Use Compost:

How to Use Compost Mulch We can copy nature by applying our finished or unfinished compost to the garden much like a forest floor. Being on the surface does not deprive the plants of nutrients in the root zone. A 3-4” layer can be placed on the surface and will slowly be composted. Keep 2-3” from stems. This will regulate soil temperature, retain soil moisture, provide nutrients during breakdown and improve soil structure.

How to Use Compost:

How to Use Compost Potting Mix ( Finished compost only) The water retention quality of finished compost makes an excellent potting mix. The addition of some coarse sand, perlite or vermiculite, aids with drainage. Using a ½ “ Screen to remove larger partly composed material is advisable as the decomposing microbes would compete with plant roots for the available nitrogen. If the potted plant begins to yellow or appears stressed the organic material was not completely finished.

Simple Maturity Test:

Simple Maturity Test Take two planting containers Fill one with your normal seed planting media. Fill the other with your prepared compost mix. Place six spaced radish seeds in each container. Water both containers. – Watch for results. If nothing in either after 7 days – Buy new seed. If only normal media. - Compost not ready If both but the normal looks better.-Not ready If both look great- Congratulations- You did it.

THE END:

THE END Thank You Hope you enjoyed the Presentation And Received Some Usable Information BOB BAYER

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