Composting can be done in many areas, including on dairy farms. The composting process changes organic waste into a product that can be used as fertilizer. On dairy farms, the materials used are most often cow manure and spoiled feed, hay, and animal bedding. The process is enhanced by microorganisms that thrive in heat, creating a product that benefits soil quality.
What does it take to make compost on a dairy farm?
Making compost in any size operation requires many tools and supplies. First, the right environment is needed to support microbial growth. The microorganisms that break down waste live off of carbon and nitrogen, but the two elements must be balanced. Having too much carbon can hinder the compost and large particle size slows it down. The balance will depend on the type of materials used.
Materials with high nitrogen content include cow manure and grass clippings, while leaves, corn stalks, and straw have a higher carbon content. Adding in bedding like wood chips or sawdust will also affect the ratio of the elements. And ideal carbon nitrogen (C: N) ratio is around 25-30.
The following are some materials you should not compost for various reasons.
- Inorganic materials: These should not be included in a compost pile. Plastic waste, motor oil, and other toxic materials can cause harm and will not degrade, so they will hurt your compost and the soil.
- Animal matter and animals: Sometimes these items can be composted, even large caracsses in some cases. However, you should be aware of any local and state regulations as well as what these items can do to disrupt wildlife.
- Tainted plant material: If you use grass clippings from chemically treated lawns, in can transfer chemicals to crops. Plants that have been affected by blight, like potatoes or tomatoes, can continue to spread the disease even after composting.
Besides materials, you should also be equipped with some tools. These include a thermometer long enough to reach into the middle of a pile and something to turn the compost for aeration.
How you can make compost on your dairy farm
Before making compost, you must consider the size of your operation. Small-scale composting can be done in a bucket or bin, while large-scale operations will be better off with long rows known as windrows. The goal is to create an environment where temperatures are ideal, so the piles must be large enough to heat and be turned.
The frequency at which you turn the compost will depend on what materials you are using, the weather, the microorganisms, and water. You must use water to support the process, but too much will ruin the compost. If you need to, water the pile, but be sure to keep it covered if your dairy farm is an a rainy area.
Using compost turners
For large-scale operations, a compost turner will be a great choice for turning windrows. Rotating drum machines turn the compost in large containers, adding air and regulating the temperature of the mixture. They come in many sizes so you will be able to find a good fit for your needs. You can find pulled options that are attached to a tractor or self-propelled machines that you can drive.
Choosing the best compost turner for your needs requires that you know the size of your windrows and how much compost you need to produce. Keep an eye on market prices for new, used, and refurbished equipment as well. You should keep the following factors in mind too.
- Turn speed and rate
- Height adjustments
- Maintenance practicality
- Flail size and durability
Compost turners from SCARAB International
For more information about compost turners, contact the experts at SCARAB International today. Our machines can be used for small, medium, and large composting projects and we offer New, Refurbished, and Used compost turners. We also have Leasing Options available. Give us a call at (806) 883-7621 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our Products.