With smaller O2Compost systems, like the one shown below, it is relatively easy to follow the "KISS" principle (Keep it Simple & Systematic). Using a horse farm as an example, you would typically do the following:
- Muck out the stalls, trying to minimize the amount of stall bedding in the waste cart;
- Collect manure from the paddocks and pastures;
- Add water to the waste, if needed, to attain a moisture content of 60-65%;
- Add the manure to the bin that is currently being filled;
- Cover the raw waste with a 6" layer of finished compost when the bin is full;
- Deliver intermittent airflow into the manure mix (e.g. 1 minute ON / 30 min OFF);
- Keep an eye on pile temperatures (not a rigorous data collection exercise);
- Remove the composted manure from the bin at the end of ~30-45 days;
- Clean the gaps between the aeration boards using a putty knife; and
Aside from mucking out the stalls and collecting manure from the paddocks and pastures (which is a given on any horse farm), the time it takes to compost the manure might be 2 or 3 hours each month. The beauty of Aerated Static Pile (ASP) Composting is that the timer and blower do all the work for us while we're taking care of other matters around the farm.
Once you have experienced success with the composting process, you develop an understanding of what works and what doesn't work. As discussed in Rule #2, you have reached "Unconscious Competence" or "You don't know what you know". Composting at this point is EASY!
For a larger scale municipal compost system, there is generally a much longer learning curve. In next month's newsletter, I will tell the story of Green Mountain Compost in Williston, Vermont. Over a period of 30 years they have grown in capacity, greatly expanded their operating footprint, and purchased processing equipment as a way to improve efficiency, all while striving - and succeeding - to improve the quality of their finished compost product.