Successful Large-Scale Composting In Any Season

Friday, April 26th, 2019
composting with compost turners in any season

Newcomers to composting are surprised to learn that the process can take place throughout the year. In fact, each season offers its own composting benefits. Here’s a look at these, beginning with spring and ending with winter.

Composting in the spring

Springtime brings rising temperatures, which naturally raises the temperature of the compost. But, you will need to add organic materials to the pile periodically for them to rise correctly. These are an ideal food for the microorganisms located inside the compost. They feed on the organic materials, which can be broken down faster at a higher temperature.

At this rate, the compost will begin to cook naturally. The inner temperature will continue to get warmer as the outdoor temperature rises. If you’re beginning the composting process in the spring, then you should turn the piles regularly, as this allows the air to move more freely. This method can create useable compost in approximately 21 days. The product could be used during the early portion of the growing season.

You should cover your windrows if you live in an area where spring is rainy. Remember to leave enough slack for air to move through the piles. You will also need to turn the compost, so make sure you can easily remove the cover.

Summertime composting

The summer months are the best time of the year for composting. The heat from the sun will naturally heat the windrows, which gives the product an extra boost. Once you have established your compost piles, you can begin to focus on the maintenance aspect of the process for the rest of the summer.

Maintaining your compost could mean adding grass clippings or other materials. You may need to check the moisture daily, especially during humid conditions. If the compost is too moist, it will slow down the process, even though the summer offers the perfect weather conditions for composting. Some windrow turners are able to add moisture as they turn the windrows.

The first task is to use the right balance of brown and green organic materials. Usually, the brown materials are dying crops or corn stalks, while the green materials are grass clippings, fruit skins, vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds. Once you have layered these two inside your piles, then you can moisten them regularly. This will allow the air to circulate throughout the compost.

Composting in the fall

If the summer months are ideal for composting, then the fall season is best for collecting composting materials like fallen leaves. You need them to layer your pile because they provide nutrients for the microorganisms that live inside the compost.

The best method for this process is alternating the layers of brown and green organic materials with other ingredients. This will prevent matting from developing inside the compost. Turning the windrows with a compost turner can also help with this. Whether your compost is new or already made, you should set aside a supply leaves to disperse into the mix during the winter months.

Finally, it’s important to keep a tarp over the compost during the fall season because it’s also the start of the rainy season in many areas. A cover will help the compost from becoming soggy and cool. Don’t keep the tarp on too tight, though, as you must turn the ingredients periodically.

Composting in winter

There is always work to be done on your compost, even in the winter. It’s important to turn the hardening sheet of the ice that may sit on top of the compost. If this isn’t completed, then the microorganisms inside the mixture will slow down, especially if the temperature dips into single digits. Some call this slowing or halting the composting process.

Turning the pile will assist the microorganisms in breaking down the organic materials, which is how they stay active. Often, the center of the pile remains warm, but the outer layer will be at the mercy of the cold. The main problem is providing enough water to keep the microorganisms active and warm. Don’t let too much snow water get into the compost because this will force air out of the pile.

Turned windrow composting

The turned windrow (or aerated) composting process is better-suited for large-scale operations. This method is often used by local municipalities and high-volume food processing plants. If done correctly, it should produce a large amount of high-quality compost. Some local governments will make the compost available to residents for little or no fees.

The process consists of placing organic materials into rows of long piles (windrows) and aerating them periodically. The ideal height of each pile is between 4 to 8 feet with a width of 14 to16 feet. The size helps to generate enough heat and oxygen to make compost. Smaller or larger windrows will do just fine, although they may need more care.

Do you need a compost turner for your windrows?

SCARAB International customizes Compost Turners that fit your specific needs. Our machines can be used for small, medium, or large composting operations. 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.