Since the weather was so uncharacteristically warm this weekend I had a chance to get out on the tractor for a little while. The ground was thawed and I managed to get post holes dug with the auger for our new compost management area. With the ever increasing cost of fertilizers, especially the organic ones that we are required to use, it only makes sense to get this up and running.
For those of you who are not aware, organic farming has a very different set of rules for compost and manure than conventional farming. Manure can only be used in an organic application either as ”Raw” (uncomposted) at least 120 days before a crop is harvested from a field or if you have officially composted the manure. While we do plan to use “raw” manure in the fall to help boost nutrients for overwinter cover crops, it will also be nice to have something on hand that we can add in over the summer as we figure out exactly where different crops will be planted or between crops to help meet their nutrient requirements.
In order to officially compost manure, you have to do a number of things, and keep a log of all of your comopsting activities. The log needs to include what you add to a compost pile and when, turning and general maintainance and most important a daily temperature record of the compost pile. In order for a pile to be officially compost, it has to reach an internal pile temperature at or above a certain level for a number of consecutive days. In order for us to keep a revolving compost operation where we are able to use some compost at any given time and add new material to be composted, we need to have a number of different composting bins as you can’t add new material to a processing pile without starting over again from scratch.
With all of that being said, we have almost completed construction on the first of what is planned to be six bins, each 6′ x 6′. With any luck, we should have some official compost available to us toward the end of the summer!