Those in the composting industry are familiar with questions about mixtures, tools, equipment, processes, and more. But, there are some interesting questions that some may have that don’t often get answered. Here are seven of the strangest questions about composting and their answers.

1. Can I compost tape?

It is vital for composters to know what can be used in compost for the health of the mixture. While it is safe to use masking tape without silicone in a compost pile, be sure to avoid anything that is not biodegradable.

2. Does compost expire?

Compost doesn’t really expire (surprisingly) but it does become less effective or extremely smelly. This is because it can lose structural stability and nutrients over time. It is best to buy high-quality compost or make your own to ensure the usefulness of the mixture. Just be sure you know whether you are trying to enhance the soil where you are planting crops or if you are using compost for nutrients and plant growth.

3. Can I compost weeds?

Weeds are known for providing more nutrients than many other types of compostable plants, so it is recommended that you use them. Yarrow leaves, for example, have over 6,000 species of microbes. These provide complex amino acids as well as a good source of nutrients. Dandelions are high in potassium and lamb’s quarter is a good source of manganese.

4. Which states compost the most?

According to the USDA, food waste made up 30% to 40% of the entire food supply in 2010. The United States has a reputation for being the most wasteful country in the world. Despite this, composting on large-scale levels has become more popular in the country. Many cities are implementing municipal composting programs and the process has become well-known in the agriculture industry. States that do the most composting include North Dakota, Texas, and California.

5. What happens if I am composting wrong?

Compost is essentially just a pile of waste products. If left unmaintained, it will eventually decompose. But, composting takes advantage of this process by speeding it up. The goal is to create the perfect environment for microbes to grow using a balance of air, water, carbon, and nitrogen. It may sound easy, but you must be aware of how the process works and how to create a high-quality product. Here are some signs that you are not composting properly.
    • The mixture smells really bad: This indicates that your pile is too moist and that anaerobic conditions have occurred. Strong odors can be caused by a lack of turning, too much moisture, and an imbalance of carbon and nitrogen.
    • The pile is moist and will not break down: Compost should be aerobic, so when this issue happens, it means the pile isn’t breathing enough.
    • There are no bugs or worms in the mixture: High-quality compost should have mites, worms, and mycelium visible when you turn it. It is important to keep in mind that newer piles will have to wait for these lifeforms to move in. The issue could be caused by a lack of moisture, so rule this out first, then consider introducing a small amount of mature compost.

6. Can you speed up the composting process?

The goal of composting on any scale is to do just this! Cold composting, unlike aerobic composting, can take months to years to complete. There are many tips that you can use to speed up the process including the following.
    • Add a layer of branches at sticks at the bottom
    • Use a compost cover to hold heat in
    • Turn your compost regularly
    • Add materials rich in nitrogen
    • Make sure the moisture levels are correct
    • Use smaller materials
    • Place activators into the mixture

7. What compost is good for grapevines?

You don’t have to use a specific compost for your grapevines, but many operations choose to use materials that are already on site. The goal is to have a good ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (10:10:10 has been shown to work well for grapevines). Another thing to keep in mind is that the amount of compost you use will likely be more important than the type.

Using a compost turner to keep your mixture healthy

Whether you are composting on an industrial scale for your city or you just need fertilizer for your crops, we have the equipment to get the job done right. At SCARAB International, we build custom compost turners for small, medium, and large-scale operations. Check out our turners For Sale and our Leasing Options to see what we have available. You can also reach us at (806) 883-7621 to learn more about our Products and Services.