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Anaerobic Compost

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Snapper12, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    warm or hot compost refers to the concentration of mineral nutrients. it doesn't directly refer to how warm your compost is. particularly N. if the compost is not mature enough the soluble nutrients are too concentrated and you can burn your plants like you can by applying to much chemical fertilizer.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    So the idea that generations of twigs and leaves that fall into a wetland and turn to unrecognizeable black material and even becomes a rootzone for aquatic/swamp plants, would be different than twigs and leaves turned into unrecognizeable black material above the water is really nothing of great significance?

    Another interestting source of non-human developed compost is the bottom of a forestted valley that has the accumulation of generations of twigs and leaves...

    Do we think that the compost we make out of the same materials in a few weeks, is somehow of higher quality than what was formed naturally on the forest floor?
  3. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Of course they are different, especially in the different ecosystems. However, as something to add to your soil you can use both for similar reasons. My point is simply that the OP CAN and SHOULD use his compost even if it hit a stage of anaerobic decomposition (as most piles do at some point)
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    What would be different?
    Let's stick with the common twigs and leaves in any given area.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    OK... all bs aside... and the semantics that go with it...

    What does twigs and leaves turn into, when they are decomposed into their constituent elements... If there was Fe, Ca, Zn in their bodies when they died, do those elements 'disappear' under anaerobic conditions?

    I'm not sure what is complicating the discussion, but calling it EM or Compost, one could just call it decomp.

    Different microbes do things a bit differently, but don't they all come up with the same result?
  6. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    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.
  7. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 795

    Thank you David for the straight story.
  8. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    Please explain how Methane (CH4) somehow releases more carbon than Carbon Dioxide (CO2)?... as it seems this is what is believed.

    Btw, most the smell of anaerobic decomposition isn't from the methane, but rather the Sulfur being released (which isn't lost carbon)

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