March 2023 Newsletter
The "KISS" Principle
Keeping it Simple and Systematic - Part 1
With smaller O2Compost systems, like the one shown above, it's relatively easy to follow the "KISS" principle. 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 min 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
Read the full article on our Blog.
RULE 12- Keep It Simple and Systematic (KISS)
Rule 12 is derived from Occam's Razor which states: "Among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected."
We all know the KISS Principal (Keep It Simple, Stupid). My version of the KISS Principle is Keep It Simple and Systematic.
Keep It Simple: Most engineers say, "If it's not broken, it doesn't have enough bells and whistles." I believe that every compost system should be kept as simple as possible so that anyone can operate it with a minimal amount of training (and without formal training in microbiology). This is my bias.
O2Compost systems use an electric blower that is operated by a simple cycle timer to induce airflow into the pile under positive pressure. Yes, we can incorporate a programmable logic controller that can collect and graphically display temperature date. Yes, we can operate the system using a computer that tells the blower to reverse the airflow from positive to negative aeration based on the temperature differential between the top and bottom of the pile. We can do these things, but why? It only costs more money and these features are prone to fail at the least opportune time.
Keep It Systematic: As I said above, "It is important critical to make mistakes." Learning what doesn't work is even more important than figuring out what does work (see Rule 9). Composting is experiential and it is through an ongoing trial and error process that you will learn the most efficient and effective way to operate your compost system (see Rule 2).
To take advantage of your successes (and failures), I recommend that you develop one or more checklists to follow so that critical elements don't get overlooked. This will enable you to produce a high-quality finished product - consistently (see Rule 11).
Checklists will also help you transfer the day-to-day operations of the system to someone else so that you can use your time more productively and perhaps take an occasional well-deserved vacation.
The First Corollary of Rule 12: "That which gets measured, gets done."
Reference: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, 2009
Soils for Life Documentary
"The most precious and valuable possession on your property is the soil."
This video offers valuable insight on the importance of soil health. You will hear from Australian farmers who share the steps and rehydration strategy they are using to rebuild, improve, and maintain the soil on their farms for water security, food security, stable bio systems, and a stable climate. "It's everything, how we run our farm. It starts with soil."
This is worth 12 minutes of your time.
"How do I load my Micro-Bin?"
ANSWER: There are at least eight ways to load your Micro-Bin. We will start with the most obvious and work our way to the most creative (and expensive).
- When you collect the manure and stall bedding from stalls, paddocks, and pastures, you can use a bucket or tub. If it's not too heavy, you can lift the tub over the front side of the bin and dump it in.
- Alternatively, you can dump the manure and stall bedding in front of the bin, wet it down if necessary, mix it thoroughly with a shovel or pitchfork, then pitch it into the bin one scoop at a time.
- A third way is what we will call the "fulcrum method". With this approach, you can place 4x4s or bricks on the front of the bin and, using a cart, lever the tub up and over the front side of the bin.
- If you have sloping ground where you want to do your composting, you can construct a retaining wall and place your bins on the downhill side. This "top-down method" would allow you to dump the manure down into the bin, taking full advantage of gravity.
- If the top-down method is not an option, you can construct a portable ramp that can be positioned in front of the bin being filled. This requires navigating the cart up a steep incline, but at least you will be getting your daily exercise.
- Similar to the previous option, you can construct a permanent ramp on the backside of the bin.
- One of our clients in Florida purchased a Hydraulic Life Table Cart from Harbor Freight for his wife to use. This proved to be a very effective solution to the problem.
- Finally, there's always the front-end loaded bucket option. Unfortunately, not everyone has the budget or need for a piece of equipment like this.
New Benchmark System
Owner: Doug M.
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