Protecting Your Compost From The Elements With A Cover

Friday, March 29th, 2019
protecting your compost from the weather

Windrow composting requires a large amount of land, sturdy equipment, and staff. The process must be continuous during each season of the year. Besides having a compost turner, reliable staff, and enough space, it is also important to understand how seasons, temperatures, and covers affect your compost.

Covering you windrow

In the compost production process, windrows should be covered. There are different reasons to do this depending upon the season.

  • During rainy seasons, a cover prevents moisture from damaging the compost. The pile should have a consistent shape and rain will not allow for this.
  • During the hot summer months, the cover blocks ultraviolet rays from the sun, which helps to maintain moisture inside the windrow.
  • In a warm, arid climate, a windrow should be covered to prevent water from evaporating from the compost.
  • Winter brings freezing temperatures, but a cover can keep the temperature inside the windrow regulated.

The goal of covering your windrows is to protect the microbial population inside them. The microbes help to maintain temperature levels throughout the windrows, no matter the weather. Moisture is a key element in the composting process as it transports substances within the pile and maintains nutrients. But, too much water can damage the shape of the pile and throw off the balance of the nutrients and microbes.

You should cover your windrows with a gas-permeable, water shedding material. This will allow gas to move as it needs to within the pile and let moisture to stay in.

How to cover your windrows

You begin the process of covering a windrow by placing the cover over it length-wise. Then, put weights attached to a rope across the width of the windrow every couple of feet. This keeps the cover in place through severe weather conditions like rain and wind storms.

If there is a major rainstorm, this method of covering a windrow will keep excessive moisture out. While the cover is shedding rain, you can still expect the gaseous exchange to occur. If the climate is dry, then moisture must be retained within the row so nutrient retention can become higher. This means you will need to add moisture periodically. In the summer, the cover should prevent damage from ultraviolet rays. If none of these expectations occur, then the compost cycle will end too quickly.

Why temperature is so important when composting

Microorganisms need a certain temperature range for optimal activity. Specific temperatures will promote rapid composting and destroy pathogens and weed seeds inside the pile. If the temperature isn’t increasing, then the compost will have poor quality.

Covered compost holds temperatures much better than uncovered piles. In severe cold weather, covered compost rarely freezes and warms faster in the springtime. Leaching is significantly reduced when the compost is covered as well.

Compost turners with SCARAB

SCARAB International customizes compost turners to fit your specific needs. Our machines can be used in small, medium and large composting projects. We offer New, Refurbished, and Used compost turners, as well as Leasing Options. Give us a call today at (806) 883-7621 or Contact Us via email to learn more.