Composting 101

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by ICT Bill, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Lets start a thread on composting, this is from an article by the australian government, I find that they are well ahead of us in government backed documented sustainable practices, it should start off the conversation

    Fate of plant pathogens and biocontrol agents during composting
    Disease suppressive composts should by definition contain no plant pathogens. Eradication of plant pathogens present in the original feedstock occurs during the composting process as a result of exposure to high temperatures, release of toxic products during or after the self-heating process and microbial antagonism in the sub-lethal outer temperature zones of piles/windrows or later during curing.

    Most plant pathogens are killed by 30 minutes exposure to 55C (Hoitink and Fahy, 1986). A few plant pathogens such as the tobacco mosaic virus, the clubroot pathogen (Plasmodiophora brassicae) and some forma speciales of Fusarium oxysporum are less sensitive to heat and highly controlled in-vessel composting systems may be required if feedstock material is likely to be contaminated with such pathogens.

    Most beneficial microorganisms are also killed during the high temperature phase of composting, however, some remain in the outer low temperature parts of the compost pile/windrow (Hoitink et al., 1997). The disease suppressive properties of composts are usually induced during curing, because most biocontrol agents recolonise the compost after peak heating.

    A wide range of microorganism species has been identified as biocontrol agents in compost-amended substrates. These include Bacillus spp., Enterobacter spp., Flavobacterium balustinum 299, Pseudomonas spp., other bacterial genera and Streptomyces spp. as well as fungal species including Penicillium spp, Gliocladium virens, several Trichoderma spp. and others (Chung and Hoitink, 1990; Hoitink et al., 1997). Compost moisture content (ideally 40-50% moisture) is critical if the compost is to be successfully colonised by disease suppressive microorganisms after peak heating.

    Compost produced in the open, in an environment which is high in microbial species diversity has been shown to be colonised by a greater variety of microbial species than the same produced in an in-vessel system (Kuter et al., 1983). This may be partly because the survival of a wide range of beneficial microorganism species is less likely in in-vessel systems, because the entire contents of the vessel will reach consistently high temperatures at the same time. Composts made in enclosed systems may require to be cured for longer to improve suppressiveness, incorporated into soils for several months prior to planting
     
  2. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    Awesome Bill, this is just what I was beginning to heavily research before I got my piles started in two weeks.

    If I may ask... all the research I find is pointed to smaller piles, homemade piles, I would like to make sure this is relevant to much larger piles and the ingredients that you would use in these.

    Thanks! And please, don't stop!
     
  3. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    small and large= apples and oranges..............
     
  4. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    right... that is why I would like this to go toward larger piles, there is a TON of "table scrap" type compost info out there but it is hard to find any large scale type info.
     
  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    you should spend the 200 $$$ and get to Virginia
     
  6. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    I would if I could but... there is a whole lot more things going on right now that I cannot get away for that. Maybe next year.
     
  7. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    I take that back... it is a one day class I might be able to swing that. I will start looking into it tomorrow.

    Oh yeah! That is two short weeks at the FD, that is a perfect time to take off, I don't lose as much OT.
     
  8. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    thanks, It will spring jump you up to the front of the class!!!
     
  9. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    Eh... only an 8 hour drive, and I get to stay over night so that shouldn't be too bad. I am sure it will be well worth the time and money as I hear so much about this Dr. Ingham person. You and Phil comin tree?
     
  10. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    eh, maybe, we have a large load on our plate, we drew some un needed interest from derm, so we have a lot of work ahead of us to get the new place up and going, we have to pour a concrete containment around the whole thing. and we have to do it asap , so we can finish moving. the new owner of our old place was real cool about it. letting us take a month longer to move out. so now on top of all that we have going we have to do the construction thing, again........
     

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