If you are new to running a commercial composting business, you may wonder how the process works during the winter. At-home compost most often freezes over the winter and resumes the process when it warms up. But, large-scale operations must process their compost throughout the year. Here is some information about composting in the winter that will help you prepare BEFORE it gets cold.

Heat retention is vital

Keeping your compost at the right temperature is one of the most important factors that affect quality. The size of the pile helps determine the temperature. Long windrows produce and hold heat more efficiently than other types. However, the edges are likely to freeze faster. Following these tips will help your windows retain heat.
    1. Use the right size windrows. As stated above, the size of your compost piles will affect the temperature. But, you will need to be sure you are using the right size piles, to begin with. No matter the time of year, longer piles will be more efficient.
    2. Adjust the mixture. The ingredients you use also affect the temperature of your compost. By adjusting the carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) ratio, you can keep your commercial compost forming properly. A lower ratio should work in winter, while a slightly higher ratio will be better for summer temperatures.
    3. Turn your compost at the right time. You should be doing this throughout the year. But, there are special considerations for turning your windrows in winter. Turning is necessary to keep the mixture forming correctly. On the other hand, the process releases heat. This is why turning should be avoided on the coldest days of the season.

Moisture levels still matter

Just like with turning, you should be monitoring the moisture levels of your compost all year. You will want to keep them consistent no matter when you are turning the piles. It can be difficult to accomplish this in areas that receive rain and snow in small or large amounts. The key is to control how much moisture gets into the compost. You can cover the piles if you are in an area of high snowfall or use snow to add moisture if you are in a drier location.

Avoid leachate

This is a form of water that is nutrient-rich, and although microbes love it, leachate can cause aeration issues in your compost. If you are adding moisture, make sure it doesn’t contain too many nutrients. You can also slope your piles to help with washout.

Get the right commercial compost turner for your operation

One of the best ways to ensure you produce the highest-quality compost is to use the right tools, no matter the season. At SCARAB International, we understand that your business is unique. That’s why we make custom compost turners for small, medium, and large composting operations. Give us a call at (806) 883-7621 to learn about our products, including our New, Used, and Refurbished compost turners. We also have Leasing options available.