Applying compost with a spreader

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawrence stone, Jul 4, 2001.

  1. My old Jrco spreader is ready for a new life. It throws too much to the right these days
    and the rheostat is dead. Next week I am going to buy a lesco electric spreader ($299)
    And fabricate it to mount to a jrco bar. I am going to just wire it with alligator clips that attach to the battery so I can use it on any of my 3 machines that have a jrco bar.

    One of my customers a private federal govt agency operates a composting yard. They have two soccer fields built/seeded last year that is mostly rock hard subsoil with little organic matter that I am getting get for plan in September.

    The plan is to take a yard of compost and triple screen it (1/2”) the spread it out thin on a concrete slab and let it dry out for two weeks. The plan is to also double core aerate the fields and apply the compost. They are going to bring a yard in a pick up and their man is going to shovel the compost off the pickup right into my spreader with the gate open all the way. With the HD agitation of jrco spreader and the bouncing of the
    spreader on the front of the walkbehind I hope to get the stuff to flow.

    If it flows and the results of composting does not net many weeds I plan on including this service twice
    a year early May and late August to commercial and residential accounts in place of a fertilizer application at the same pricing structure. Since I will be getting the compost free the extra labor and NOT buying chemical fertilizer will be a wash. I can easily load 5 yards in the back of my pickup. I figure on applying a yard per acre. At $80 an acre that would be a gross of $400 a day to just shovel crap off the back of a pick up. My truck has field removable greedy boards so shoveling into a spreader is easy work. If you have a laborer shoveling you would not even break a sweat.

    I will post some pics if I can get this to work. Stayed tuned same time same station.
  2. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Posts: 4,831

    If you have problems spreading that compost with your spreader, I think the miniature manure spreader at Northern Tool would be good for a job like this.
  3. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    Larry, Why not just have it trucked over spread 3 or 4" deep till it in and then reseed? You'll get more usefull organic matter into the soil and September is a perfect time to seed inyour area. Another idea is to see if any farmer has a manure wagon you could load it and use it like a top dressing machine. Just a few thoughts.........
  4. That might work for you since you have ztrs but I am stuck
    in a mower time warp with these gear drive walkbehinds.

    I did a cost study of a new 60" dixie vs a old 62" gear drive walkbehind and the dixie is a few dollars cheaper to operate per hour when you take the cost of labor into account.

    My problem right now is that I don't have enough large acreage to mow to justify a new purchase.

    But with the smaller ZTRs (52" and less) I feel one of my 52" walkbehinds will be just as fast mowing 2/3 acre and less accounts.
  5. The problem is these people have exaggerated expectations. They want me to make this playable by September. I dumped a load of 32-5-7 50% poly coated two weeks ago and it's starting to grow but still needs more N so yesterday I put down 17-5-7 30% poly with Dursban.
  6. You have my attention. Keep us updated.
  7. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    Stone, a ztr is cut your time on cutting a athletic feild down considerably! I use my ztr on 2 acre accounts as well as 1/4 acre accounts! They will go anywhere a walkbehind will just about! If you finance a new z master your payments are less than 200 bucks a month with 2 grand down. thats 2 1/4 accounts a month!
  8. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    Larry, most compost is just partially decayed organic matter. Within a few months of application, the product is completely decayed to an insignificant volume of long-term decaying matter (mostly lignin). To make a significant change in a lifeless soil medium, consider using wood refuse: decayed mulch, finely ground wood chips, or sawdust. Wood is composed of a large amount of lignin, which takes a long time to decay (40+ yrs - look at fallen trees in woods).

    Lignin is an open-ended tubular structure, with readily decayable organic matter (cellulose based) inside. The dead cellulose draws saprophytic bacteria and fungi from the soil into the lignin tubules. After all is decayed the decay organisms die, providing food for root hairs of grass that grow into tubules to absorb. Then the root hairs die, providing food for more bacteria & fungi. So you are setting up a ideal natural cycle in your grass growing medium, bringing it back to life. And it is long term because lignin is so slow to decay itself. This was explained to me many years ago by an environmental researcher from Texas, and the one time I was able to try it from scratch - a new lawn in pure sand - I had great results.

    Only concern is that green wood (any wood refuse not already in a state of decay) will rob the medium it is applied to of N. So you have to add an appropriate amount of N to start the decay process in the wood. I can't find the proper ratio right now, but Purdue coop extension gave me a figure of how many # of N to add to each cu yd of wood.
  9. Much thanks for your time Jim.

    What I will do is have the compost yard (which is the same agency that's developing the sports fields) to take a load of tree chips
    and run it through the screen to get it to the point that I can
    run the material thru my spreader.

    If I can apply just wood chips that would eliminate the weed
    seed issue.
  10. Alan

    Alan Member
    Posts: 1,185

    If you're looking to add wood material you might look for sawdust from a mill. Not the fine stuff from a woodshop but the coarse stuff from a board saw. 1/8-3/16" particles are the norm there. Oak or one of the other nut hardwoods if you want it to take a long time decaying, pine or a close grained hardwood of you want it to rot out fast. That stuff would go through a spin spreader pretty good, but int he volumes you want to add it might be worth finding somebody with a vee box sand/salt spreader.

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