Compost Piles

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Clapper&Company, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Believe it or not composting has a national group. US Composting Council
    I know some companies that take their composting very seriously, they also make serious money doing it.
    Tree companies especially
  2. Daner

    Daner LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    If we never got our compost materials for free ,we would have to buy the stuff
  3. Daner

    Daner LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    Question: How Hot In temperature can a compost pile reach?
  4. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    There's a range you're going for when thermal composting. Too cool and you don't kill the weed seeds or pathogens. Too hot, and you're destroying beneficial organisms.

    I'm doing this from memory, but I believe you want to heat the pile to 135 degress F for 24 hours (this means the outside too, so you'll have to turn it). Upper limits for temps., I think is 160 degrees.

    Again, this is all from memory, it's been a little while, and I'd have to go back and check my notes.
  5. 44DCNF

    44DCNF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,460

    I've seen 180 before during a check. Time to turn. Here is a c&p from this site from a quick search:
    Florida's Online CompostingCenter

    Monitor Temperature
    If you are using a hot composting method:

    Turn if the pile is less than 100°F
    Turn if the pile is more than 150°F

    Why? Because the Thermophilic bacteria prefer temperatures in the 105-140°F range, and these microbes are the fastest at converting raw materials to compost.

    If the compost pile exceeds 155°F, or so, it may be too hot for the bacteria population to thrive. At higher temperatures the heat may actually kill off part of the population. If this happens, the temperatures will fall off and the populations will slowly rebuild.

    Compost thermometers are available for measuring compost temperature.
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Daner: How hot? think fire. Once the pile starts to burn and its a big pile you are in deep trouble because it is so hard to put out. You basically have to wait for it to go out, sometimes months. another reason why compost piles are monitored so closely.
    The for free thing that I was talking about was: you get paid to take the leaves and grass away from the customer site, you compost it and then charge them to bring it back to the site and spread it on the lawn as a top dressing.
  7. Daner

    Daner LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    Is there a possibility of spontaneous combustion?

    160? 180? <--------thats the max?

    Ok I just saw Bills post...Thats my point of asking the question i know that they can catch what Is the temp. before the fire starts?
  8. tadhussey

    tadhussey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    Here's from the Soil Food Web site:

    Habitat requirements for beneficial bacteria, fungi required to obtain thermal death of pests and pathogens
    Thermal Compost
    Maintain 5.5 ppm O2 (dissolved gases) or higher during compost cycle
    Pleasant Smell
    Moisture 45 to 75%
    For thermal compost: Temperature of 55 C or higher for at least 3 days in all parts of the compost: No greater than 70 C. Compost must be turned to achieve adequate temperature throughout pile. Turn compost every time compost approaches 68 to 70 C to maintain adequate air throughout pile.
  9. Daner

    Daner LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    The max Temp Is what i'm looking for...not the Ideal temps. Would I be wrong If I said that a compost pile could reach 300 degrees F ?
  10. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    I don't know the temp that it would catch on fire
    I am sure it must have to do with how much water content there is in the pile

    I know my buddy who does it for a living red flags a pile when it reaches 165F, it must be turned right away if that temp is read on the thermometer

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