Whether you’re new to commercial composting or you’ve been doing it for a while and want to learn about additional useful equipment, we have something for you. From compost turners to tea extractors to inoculants, here are the most essential commercial composting tools and why you need them.
Composting is far more effective when the raw materials are blended well. This effectiveness increases when the materials become agitated during their decomposition. There’s no better device than a compost turner for quickly agitating literal tons of compost in windrows.
Agitating the compost to introduce oxygen and re-establish pore space is not all that compost turners can do. They are also extremely helpful in adding the right amount of moisture to your compost. You want your moisture levels to be just right—not too wet and not too dry.
If your moisture levels are too low, microbial activity will be reduced, leading to more extended periods before the compost is at full effectiveness. If moisture levels are too high, your compost will start to smell terrible, which is a sign that there is insufficient oxygen diffusion in your compost. The sweet spot is between 40 and 60 percent moisture by weight.
Compost turners can introduce specified amounts of moisture to your compost, allowing you greater control over oxygenation and moisture level.
Most compost windrow turners have the capacity to turn windrows measuring three to six feet high and nine to 12 feet wide. This turning process brings the inside of the windrow to the outside, and vice versa, creating an enveloping effect for the best mixing results.
Compost tea is a water-based drink for your plants, made by steeping finished (or mostly finished) material in water. This steeping and fermentation period allows microbial colonies to grow in the tea to be introduced to crops for beneficial fertilization effects.
In order to produce this liquid in high volumes, you’ll need a device called a compost tea extractor or tea brewer. Brewing tea may not offer enough benefit, however. Microbial viability in brewed tea is a short period, so extractors are used to pull Humus proteins out of Humus compost.
This protein allows microbes to expand up to 30 generations on the surface of the leaves of your plants, and in the soil. Soluble minerals, suspendable minerals, humus proteins, humic substances, enzymes, and microbes are all extracted from your compost and put in the tea to provide heightened soil fertility and plant health.
After they are extracted, the microbial colonies remain dormant and consume oxygen at a reduced rate. This extends the life of the extracted tea by two to three months. In contrast, brewed tea without extraction lasts around 24 hours because the microbes are active and not dormant. Once the active microbes have consumed all the oxygen in the water, the tea becomes anaerobic.
Plants need a healthy supply of water, especially when the weather is unpredictable. Many areas can see weeks or even months pass by without any rainfall—your plants cannot survive at that rate. On a large farm, you need access to a sizable quantity of water to give all your crops the attention they deserve.
Agricultural water tank trailers are built to transport large volumes of water for all your composting operations. They hitch to the back of compost turners, and their water release can be controlled from within the tractor cab. Some also come with the ability to draw liquid bacteria from an interior inoculation tank into a large supply of water.
The trailers come with the capability to pull liquid in from a stationary water source until it has filled and then pressurize the water for easy dispersal. This is how you can regulate the moisture in your compost windrows.
To ensure your compost material is at its highest quality, you need to cover your compost. This has the added benefit of protecting your compost from elements that would disturb it, but covering compost is a time-consuming and difficult process.
Thankfully, acquiring a fabric roller significantly decreases the time spent rolling and the difficulty of the task. With a fabric rolling machine, your windrows can be covered and uncovered by a single operator. When removing the cover, the machine pulls up the fabric on a spindle, resulting in easy storage and protecting the fabric from damage that could incur if it was stored unrolled.
All you need to do is attach the fabric roller to a skid-steer implement and control the spindle’s rotation from the auxiliary hydraulics. Different fabric rollers can handle different covers, but as a general rule, they’ll handle covers from four to five meters wide.
Compost inoculants, or soil inoculants, are bacterial colonies that you add to your soil. These colonies are extremely useful in maintaining the health of your crops and your soil quality. In addition, inoculants accelerate the process of composting and mitigate bad smells.
Whether you’re looking to efficiently break down organic matter or you want to build up the broken down organic matter while increasing the microbial population, compost inoculants can do the job.
If all of that sounded a little too technical, think about it like this: over time, crops planted in the same place will eventually use up the nutrients in the soil. Putting helpful bacteria into the soil will boost the soil health and allow nutrients to be sustained in those locations, thus producing nutritional crops for far longer.
With the help of a water trailer and compost turner, you can introduce these helpful bacteria while maintaining proper moisture levels and ensuring an even production of compost in your fields.
Now that you’ve seen the most important commercial composting tools and learned why you need them, you have the knowledge you need to significantly improve your composting abilities. Efficiency and quality will see a sizable jump after implementing these tools and techniques, so get out into your fields and enjoy a bountiful harvest.