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Compost ingredient ratios

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    OK, FINALLY I found some good manure that I can use for compost and the supply is basically endless.

    A few questions...

    When I use the manure, I can get both dry or wet. I will use dry for now as a topdress, do I want to use dry or wet for my compost?

    What ratio do I want to mix it? Manure vs wood (shavings/woodchips). I have two sites I believe I can get some piles going, one is a horse farm in town. The people seemed pretty cool and I will probably bring in some plants, nothing big or expensive, to spruce it up being it is brand new to "repay" them. The other site is a tree company. They have 5 acres and use less than 1/2 of it. The only problem with this one is I am not sure they have a tractor to turn it. Will have to look into that one. The great thing about these is they are opposite sides of my realm of territories. The second place has great people also and I figure with the land and amount of wood chips they have leftover from jobs we can get a pretty big pile going. Thought I would use what I need and when we have excess sell a little to the public.

    What other items are recommended to be added to the pile to get a good mixture of nutrients (things I could hopefully get for free or very cheap)?

    I am excited and want to get it going like tomorrow, probably not till Wed but you know what I mean. That is if everyone is still in as good spirits as the first time I met them.
  2. wallzwallz

    wallzwallz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 361

  3. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372


    this site seemed to explain the process pretty well. It is based for homeowners, but I figured I would just quadruple the amount like you do when making two boxes of mac-n-cheese you just double the ingredients.

    Some questions it did not answer:

    - It says manure requires more carbon products; brown stuff, ie. dead leaves, wood chips, etc.

    - If the pile gets too hot you turn it?

    - If the pile doesn't get hot you need to make it bigger and turn it?

    Other than that it pasically answered 90% of my questions.

    Now... tree... I know you have tractors and stuff to turn your piles, the one site has a tractor... I saw it fly by the barn one day... the other site with the tree company though I have yet to see one. Haven't had the chance to ask either. What do you suggest I do if they don't have one to get the pile turned? Your a tree company, will they have something we can use? I know it's not your company, but the generic company tools, is there something that we can get in there?

    Can I leave these piles in the open or do I need to put them in a "crate" of some sort?
  4. Daner

    Daner LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,307

    Deep, I can tell your pumped and want to get going on your manure/compost piles...Its the week end and the scientist on here are sitting back on there decks taken er cool looking at there nice flowers and fish In there ponds...I'm sure they will be here soon to fill In the blanks and get down to the science of the mixing process of your piles...But for the time being I will try To get you going...I'm not a pro at the mix ratios...but I do alot of piles of horse manure...and I Mix It with old straw an d spoiled hay...I also add shavings from my wood shop. as far as how wet or dry It Is It really dosent mater on a big scale...Its going to get rained on anyway.
    Turning It...Yes your going to need a loader of some description...If I were you...I would be looking for a small skid steer...Then you can also use It doing your landscaping...Its one of a landscapers favorite machines...you can add all kinds of attachments to it and expand your business...Its the only way...if you want to go big you need the equipment.

    The piles can stay open...no crates needed ,the pile itself Is the crate...you nedd to get them deep...this way It will insulate Its self and start a real wild microscopical world...then you get the heat. you maybe able to find a wood shop that wants to get rid of there shavings...I have seen shavings burn on a pile that was so hot. The moisture seems to take care of itself i never add water the piles get so deep they don't dry...until there done...in most cases.
    My piles always have more N In them I simply cant keep up with the carbon...but they still heat up. The c-n ratio??? I dont know...I have heard different oppinions on that..


  5. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    well, like I said, one of the places I am hoping, and have already started talking with, is a tree business. They have mountains of old wood chips sitting around that they already said that they wouldn't mind getting rid of. I can get all the s*%& I need from the local dairy. So basically it comes down to the mixing rate and how to turn it. I don't have the money right this second to go out and by me a tractor or skid steer so I am hoping they will have something on site for now.

    Otherwise I will have to do some looking around. I got a friend who has a tractor but again it is about an hours drive one way to the site so I guess I'll have to figure something out. Plus it will have to be easy enough for the guys on site to turn it once a day/every other day.

    Appreciate the inputs Daner.
  6. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    Ok DGL, I am going to trow my self under the bus on this one, the "scientist" are going to beat me down for dumping the science and over simplifying this, so go at me folks, its all good!

    so ya want a big steaming pile of GOLD,

    lets start slow, you have, and say if it ain't so,
    1) manure
    2) wood chips, age and type, ukn.
    3)grass clippings some times??? i know you don't bag but you will always have a little to sweep up?
    5)brown leaves, don't rob a forest!!!!
    6) food service trash,dinner left overs.

    the basic formula is 3:1 that's not a C:N ratio I'm going to skip that on purpose.

    so 3 parts manure or green waste(food,grass,trims) to one part brown. that's the chips and leaves.

    now if the wood is old and the manure is almost finished when you get it it changes some, older manure, you need more.if the wood is older and almost done, less manure.

    now to the blending, you will want to mix this really well, always turn and mix it more than you think is good and do it again for luck.

    the pile!! here's where some time will pay off, you need a pile big so it holds heat, not to big so it crushes the air out of the pile. and the time of year matters also, winter hotter pile(more green).so this pile should be at least 10 feet wide and 6 feet tall, with a length about 40 feet long( you can adjust it as needed). its a two part pile with a twist, let me explain,
    the site you select should have some sun and some shade(yin yang) you first level the ground and and dig a trench about 1 foot wide and 1 deep. next you lay a black plastic drain tube in it! and cover with gravel. the first 20 feet stick out of the ground and have no holes. the later under gravel part has holes and some sock if you can.

    now the fun part, you need one solar panel 5.4 volt(radio shack/ on line) one small 4 inch low volt fan( computer cooling fan) that's the air driver/pusher. that goes on the end of the pipe (duct tape/Cristy's tape) cover the fan and mount the solar panel on a post. the idea is just to move a small pressure and volume into the center of the hot pile where the used hot air moves up and the herd gets some good air.

    when the pile gets to hot there is a suicide in the herd, that's bad, to cold and that means not that great an air food supply. more air first and more food if that does not work after a week. to turn the pile you will need a tractor, there is one in every barn and the tree guy should have a bobcat or 2, so turn the pile every chance you get, once a week on a hot pile is not out of the question.
  7. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    awesome, I will start working on all of that. I know you have to buy a lot of the stuff, solar panels, etc. My bro is a computer science major from GA Tech so I am sure he has a fan laying around somewhere. does the gravel not get in the way when you go to take the compost?

    40' long... wow, that was a little longer than I had in mind but I think I can swing that... a little more cost than I had planned in manure, but I will see what I can negotiate with them. A lot of hauling too, may take me a little while to get it all in place.

    OH, before I forget, Cagles mixes in some "ash" they get from somewhere into their dried manure. Do I want this stuff? I guess I might as well get me one of those dumpsters to just get the stuff moved for the first time. Maybe they will fill that for a lower cost.

    I only need to turn the pile once a week? I guess it is getting air through the pipe huh.
  8. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    yes you want the ash , that's the sign of a good compost-er they(this is just a guess) are using it to raise the PH some and to help with the decomposition of the waste.

    it does not have to bee that big scale it to your needs, do the math how many squares do you treat with compost and them figure out how much you need. it is going to get smaller as the compost gets older and finished, say 40% reduction in volume.?? and if you find a trucker that will haul it for you say 3 loads on the week end for some cash??? what are you paying for garbage compost 25$ per ton???the real value is going to bee when your customer base gets larger and you need the larger amounts.
  9. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    Let me break this down...

    Site 1: (tree company)

    - My ratio is 3:1 manure:wood chips, I don't know what kind it is, they just got piles everywhere.
    - Dig a 1' deep 1' wide trench, should be easy enough, about 20' long
    - Put the pipe in, the 20' in the ground will have holes and stuffed with sock at the end, the other end will be plain pipe to channel the air in under the pile.
    - forget the question about the gravel, I was thinking the pit would be 10' wide for whatever reason, too tired I guess
    - I want the pile to be in partial sun/shade throughout. Or is it half of it in sun, half in shade?
    - Mix the ingredients and place 6' high 40' long
    - Place the pile over the pipe with the pipe in the center.
    - get the solar panel, similar to that used to open gates, and post it on a 4X4 in the ground and hook it up to a small fan attached to the end of the pipe
    - Turn the pile about once a week and keep an eye on the temp

    Sounds like fun, I will see what I can do. I am sure what I am picturing in my head is probably 50' tall and 200' long, so I don't think it should be that hard.
  10. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    3:1 three to one 3 to1 more manure!!!!

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