A Brief Look At Composting In The Ag Industry

Friday, January 29th, 2021
corn field and blue sky

Composting can be used for a variety of purposes, especially in the agriculture industry. Professionals can use compost as a seed starter, soil amendment, natural fertilizer, mulch, or container mix ingredient. Here are some other important benefits of using compost in the ag industry.

What compost can do for the soil

When farmers use compost to help their crops grow and be healthy, they are also helping the future health of the soil. There are regulations that control the use of this product for safety purposes, but as long as producers and farmers follow them, crops can flourish. By using compost as a soil amendment, the following (and more) can happen.

  • There is a decrease in plant disease growth: Conditions like root-rot diseases can be eliminated when compost is introduced. This is because the microorganisms present in the mixture will parasitize or compete with pathogens. They can also produce natural antibiotics to kill the diseases.
  • The soil becomes more fertile: Compost improves soil by enhancing its physical and biological properties. Over time, the nitrogen in the mixture will become available to crops.
  • Clay soils become stronger: Compost helps attract worms, which provides a couple of key benefits. First, they will burrow through the soil and help aerate it. Second, their castings will provide extra nutrients.
  • Sandy soils can hold water better: Dry, sandy soils will experience less erosion, as well as better moisture and nutrient retention when compost is applied. This happens over time.
  • Weed seeds may be killed naturally: Compost supports the growth of microorganisms, which create heat. High temperatures (over 140°F) do not allow for the survival of organic materials like weed seeds.

The benefits of creating your own compost

There are so many different areas of the ag industry that it can be a little confusing to know if you can even make your own compost. As long as you know how and have the appropriate materials and space, you can create this product on your own. First, let’s look at some of the benefits you’ll get by doing this, then we will show you a couple of examples.

You can find materials easily

Compost is made from natural waste products, many of which are thrown away by operations throughout the industry. This includes green and brown wastes like food scraps (eggshells, fruits, vegetables), yard waste, cow or horse manure, straw, and some paper products. It is vital to remember what can and can’t go into your compost.

You will save (and maybe make) money

Because you can get your own materials (or source them for a fee), you will save money on paying your own disposal fees. You won’t have to truck your waste to a disposal site or pay for drivers. If you take the time to learn the process and make a high-quality product, you can sell it to others in your industry and make a profit.

Composting on dairy farms and vineyards/wineries

Dairy farms are an important part of the ag industry. Small to large dairy operations can easily compost in their own ways. The tools, supplies, and materials used depend upon the size of the farm. The most common materials used include manure, old bedding, and spoiled feed.

Vineyards and wineries can also compost on their properties. These operations produce a lot of waste products, and although grape vines require less fertilizer, composting can still be a beneficial choice. Operators won’t have to purchase commercial fertilizers and can sell compost as another form of income.

What you’ll need for composting

If you aren’t familiar with the process, you will need to do some research before you begin composting. You must understand each method, how much waste you need, how much everything will cost, what supplies are necessary, and how much space it takes. Look into starters, accelerators, and compost turners to get your operation started. Most importantly, get to know the laws, regulations, and standards for composting.

Looking for a commercial compost turner?

To learn more about composting and using windrow turners at your facility, contact SCARAB International today. We offer a variety of equipment including New, Used, and Refurbished turners, as well as Leasing options. You can reach us by calling (806) 883-7621 or Sending us an Email for more information.