Many think that compost will stink because it contains decaying materials. However, a properly balanced compost pile should only have a small odor (excluding piles that have manure). For commercial composting operations, strong odors can be an issue for a few reasons. Most importantly, a bad odor means you are not making a good product. Odors are also prohibited by many local laws and are annoying to workers and those around your facility.

Why does compost smell bad?

A good quality compost pile has a balance of brown and green ingredients. This means that the carbon-nitrogen ratio is healthy. It will also have enough water to keep it moist but enough oxygen to feed the micro-organisms that help with the decaying process. So, what exactly makes the mixture stink?

There’s too much moisture

Moisture is vital for compost piles because it supports microbial growth and heat generation. But if they become too wet, they will end up preventing oxygen flow. This causes any anaerobic bacteria present to thrive and produce bad odors. To prevent this, make sure to place your piles in sunny areas, cover them if it is raining or snowing, and turn them often to introduce air.

There isn’t enough oxygen

The good bacteria and other microorganisms that break down your compost ingredients require oxygen to grow. This is why you should not let yours stagnate. To increase oxygen, keep your piles turned regularly and consider adding in more structured materials.

The temperature is not correct

The ideal temperature for making good quality compost fast is 160° F, but it should never go above that. The lowest temperature is 70° F, though this will not allow for quick decomposition due to a lack of microbial life. To support heat production and microbial growth, consider adding moist materials or water. If microbes are not present to begin with, simply mix in some soil that has microbes.

The balance of nitrogen is off

If your compost piles have too much nitrogen or too little, you will begin to smell a bad odor, specifically an ammonia smell. It means that you have added too many green materials. To fix the smell, add in more carbon-rich materials and turn your compost. You can also spread it out to allow for faster evaporation, but this may not be the best option for commercial operations.

Looking for a commercial compost turner?

There are a lot of factors that can affect your compost and create bad smells. Turning your piles regularly can help balance the ingredients and prevent malodors. SCARAB International offers Compost Turners in a variety of sizes including New, Used, and Refurbished custom compost turners in a variety of sizes. Our Products come with various options including four-wheel drive, drum styles, engines, and more. Give us a call at (806) 883-7621 or Send Us an Email for more information.