safe composting

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  1. 1. Heidi Kratsch Area Horticulture Specialist
  2. 2. Started with use of manure in Mesopotamia References in Bible and Talmud New England farmers: 10 parts muck to 1 part fish Early 20th century: Plant nutrients were discovered chemical fertilizers replaced composting Sir Albert Howard wrote An Agriculture Testament in 1943 J.I. Rodale popularized organic farming in the U.S. Mesopotamia
  3. 3. Composting is an extension of the natural process of decomposition.
  4. 4. Aerobic bacteria (require O2) Psychrophilic active between 55 and 70 F Mesophilic 70 to 100 F Thermophilic 113 to 160F
  5. 5. Pile heats up Temperature peaks Pile shrinks 160 F Turn the pile
  6. 6. Actinomycetes Higher-form bacteria Responsible for earthy smell Decompose tough materials (lignin, cellulose) Populations rise during the later stages
  7. 7. Prefer cooler temperatures (70-75 F) Prevalent during the late stages of composting
  8. 8. Food carbon and nitrogen Air - oxygen Moisture keep moist, not wet Good drainage
  9. 9. Carbon for energy Dry and brown such as leaves, straw, and wood chips Decompose slowly Nitrogen for growth and reproduction Wet and green such as fresh grass clippings and food waste Decompose quickly 2 parts carbon-rich to 1 part nitrogen-rich
  10. 10. 40 to 65% moisture Too dry process is slowed Too wet leads to anaerobic (low oxygen) conditions
  11. 11. Temperature hot composting occurs between 110 and 160 F Particle size 1/8 to 2 inches Volume 3 x 3 x 3 feet is optimal
  12. 12. Appropriate length to reach the center of your compost pile Clear, easy to read display Made of stainless steel or other non-rusting material Temperature range from 0-200 degrees Fahrenheit Display is hermetically sealed, preventing fogging
  13. 13. Fresh and colorful (green) materials Fresh lawn/garden waste Animal manure (from herbivores only) Non-animal-based kitchen wastes Garden and canning waste Fruits and vegetables
  14. 14. Dry or woody (Brown) materials Dry leaves, cornstalks Wood chips (chipped fine) Weed-free hay or straw Sawdust Shredded paper
  15. 15. Meat or fish Bones Fats, grease, lard or oils Large branches Dairy products Synthetic products Plastics Pet wastes
  16. 16. Nitrogen source % Nitrogen Cups to apply Urea 46 4 Ammonium nitrate 33 6 Calcium nitrate 15 13 Dried blood meal 12 16 Fish meal 10 20 Source: Backyard Composting in Utah, Utah State University
  17. 17. Dark brown and crumbly (fluffy) with an earthy odor. Original materials should not be recognizable. Temperature same or a bit higher than outside air. Should not reheat. May see earthworms and insects. Should not be hot, moldy or smell like ammonia!
  18. 18. Leave finished compost in a pile for up to one month. Decomposition of larger hidden particles may continue Compost stabilizes Ensures the process is complete before you apply to planted areas.
  19. 19. Problem Possible cause Smells bad Compacted; Too much moisture Pile damp but wont heat Not enough N; Materials too wet Dry and not composting Not enough water Ammonia odor Too much nitrogen Pile temperature too high Pile too large; Insufficient ventilation Pile temperature too low Pile too small; not enough moisture; poor aeration; lack of nitrogen
  20. 20. Tremorgenic mycotoxin is produced by a mold that causes tremors.
  21. 21. Tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning Agitation Lack of coordination Panting Drooling Vomiting Tremors Seizures Untreated = death
  22. 22. Compost tea is not the dark-colored solution that leaks from the bottom of the compost pile (do not spray this on food crops!) Compost tea is the extract of compost made suspending compost in a barrel of water (aerated or unaerated) for a short period of time (up to a week).
  23. 23. Provides nutrients (amounts and types depend upon ingredients used to make the compost) Disease suppression (maybe?) 50% less powdery mildew on grapes Slight reduction of gray mold INCREASE in downy mildew Rodale Institute and Pennsylvania State University, recent unpublished work
  24. 24. Improve soil structure Help retain nutrients Help retain moisture Improve soil aeration Lower soil pH Compost does all of these things!
  25. 25. Use only potable water. Sanitize all equipment. Use only compost that has maintained a temp of 131 F for 3 days (use hot composting method). Avoid additives (esp. simple sugars like molasses) Must be used within 24 hours of making it.