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Old 07-04-2011, 01:51 AM
Dchall_San_Antonio Dchall_San_Antonio is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 330
Snapper12 asked, "ICT Bill, what is warm or hot compost? What temp are you talking about. "

When organic materials decompose, heat is generated. Under the proper conditions, compost will heat to 120, 150 and even 170 degrees F. One San Antonio compost professional has even cooked a turkey in his compost. As the decomposition proceeds past the heated state, it cools off. Hot, or even warm compost should not be used as it can heat plant tissues and kill them. Finished compost is distinguished by having cooled off to room temperature. If it is moist it should feel cool. If it is dry, it should feel the same temp as the surrounding air. If it is warm, don't use it until it cools off.

Anaerobically processed sewage waste is used all the time in agriculture; however, I suspect the OP is not talking about that material. If your personal compost pile becomes anaerobic, then just fluffing it up will restore the air to the pile and it will quickly become aerobic again. If there is a hurry to use it while it is still in the anaerobic state, I would resist simply to allow it to get some air.

Anaerobic compost will likely be offgassing nitrogen (ammonia smell) and carbon (methane smell). In the first case you have wasted valuable protein, amino acids, and ultimately the nitrogen value from those materials. In the second you have wasted carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are organic matter. They are food for bacteria and critical to the life of a pile and soil. Dry leaves and finished compost have the amazing ability to absorb the gasses and hold them for proper compost and decomposition. If you have a pile that has gone anaerobic, the fix is to fluff the pile and cover it with several inches of dry leaves or finished compost from another part of the pile.
David Hall
San Antonio, TX
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