Whether you are new to composting or have a large scale operation, it is important to understand how the windrow turning process works. The terms “windrow composting” and “composting in windrow” refer to two different processes. The first deals with composting that is done entirely within the windrow and usually occurs outdoors. The second term actually occurs in a vessel or in an enclosed aerated static pile, and is typically conducted indoors. The following will review the basics of windrow turning equipment, the pros and cons of each type of windrow turner, and when you should use each machine.
The basics of compost turners
Turners work by turning composting windows face-on. Some can turn the pile in a single run, while others take several to turn a windrow fully. Windrow turners are categorized according to several factors, including their power source, how they move compost, and how they travel.
Types of compost turners
One of the most important parts of an efficient composting project is having the right turner for the job. The following are the most common types of composting machines on the market today.
Straddle type turners
These are the most common type of composting machines. Straddles are self-propelled, powered by either belts or hydraulics, and cover the entirety of a windrow, turning it in a single pass. But, it is important that the width of the windrow comply with the size of the turner for this to work properly. You need to conform your operations to match the machine. A horizontal rotor, or drum, is used to turn the material.
Some straddle type turners can be pulled by a loader or tractor, moving alongside the windrow. However, keep in mind that non-self-propelled straddle types need an aisle or empty space for the tractor to move through. This space is unproductive, so it is ultimately less efficient than self-propelled models.
Straddle type turners can move a variety of windrow sizes depending on how much power and room is available. To turn large piles, you will need a larger machine. Some compost turner manufacturing companies will create custom machines made just for your operation. Be sure to do some research before buying a pre-made machine to see if this is a good option for you.
Auger compost turners
The auger type uses paddles to lift and move windrows. Auger turners are typically pulled by a skid-steer loader or wheel loader. They use a variety of techniques including continuous flight by using a shaft and helical-pattern paddles. As the auger moves down the windrow, it moves the material from one side to the other. So, unlike straddles, you don’t need empty space between the windrows most of the time.
Elevating face turners
This type of composting machine is a backwards-sloping conveyor with teeth that windrow up and over. The teeth break up bags, but they do not reduce particle size. These are especially useful if you need to place the compost in a certain location. You can have both tractor and self-propelled elevating face turners.
Trapezoid type turners
The trapezoid type sits on the slope-side of a large windrow and uses rotors on an inclined axis to remove vertical layers of materials and form new windrows. The movement can be compared to slowly removing one windrow and using it to form another. These compost turners can be customized to break up the windrow particles in different sizes. Trapezoid types are both self-propelled and tractor pulled. You can also use these to move windrows into ideal locations, rather than just turning the compost.
Latest improvements in compost turners
Recent improvements to compost turners have resulted in a wide variety of machines that can fulfill a multitude of roles. You are no longer limited to a handful of models. There are dozens of options in different configurations that can best serve your needs. Modern turners can deal with windrows that are both small and large. You can purchase tractor, loader, and self-propelled models for indoor and outdoor operations.
Operators enjoy grater comforts with modern compost turners as well. For example, self-propelled turners often have air conditioning and heating in the cabs. Many incorporate air filtration systems, and seats and controls with ergonomics.
Many modern turners can even compost different materials. Some have paddles made to introduce more oxygen, reduce wear, exchange contents in different ways, pulverize feedstock, and use less power. Others have improved operator control and an increased turn radius. Most compost turners optimize space and can adjust the height at which they work, giving you more flexibility in your operations.
Finally, maintenance has been simplified. These machines endure significant conditions that strain their operational capacity. Many improvements have been devoted to reducing wear and simplifying maintenance. For example, paddles have been strengthened, and the design has been simplified, which allows for quicker replacement.
Modern turners can perform multiple roles, not just composting. Many allow you to introduce water through a spray nozzle or hose. The watering system can be used to suppress dust and add inoculates. Also, compost turners can now move windrows to other areas, allowing you to improve efficiency and reduce costs. If you have multiple sites, there are models that are compact and ideal for transportation. Modern composting machines allow you to save money by reusing turners at multiple sites.
Talk to the experts about your next compost turner
You have many options when it comes to choosing your next compost turner. At SCARAB International, we understand the need for efficient operations and machines. We specialize in creating high-quality, modern Compost Turners for all your composting needs and can handle large, medium, and small projects. If you need something that you can’t find on the market, we can develop a customized compost turner for your unique operation.