At the heart of every farm should be an efficient composting system. Compost not only reuses some of the food that would otherwise go to waste, but it also helps add rich nutrients to soil—without using pesticides and other additives. Composting is a process; it requires regular maintenance and constant care.
To learn about the processes of composting, see the ATTRA publication Composting: The Basics, available online at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=374. Also, check out our handy “composting recipe” card that can be printed/clipped from this edition of SIFT News.
So how do you go about fitting the right composting system to the needs of your operation? There isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer, as the amount of compost you need is related to several factors. In order to create a system that works well for your farm there are few questions you’ll need to address:
1. How much compost do you need to generate?
2. How much waste for composting will you generate or get from local suppliers?
3. Where will your composting bins be located?
4. What size will your composting bins be?
5. Is there room to expand your composting system if necessary?
6. Will it be easy to remove the finished compost from your bins?
A portable container bin. Courtesy of
Pierce County, Washington,
Public Works Department.
Once you have addressed these questions, you can begin to explore some of the options that exist for composting systems. The options for bins basically break down into two groups: container bins and turning bins. Container bins simply hold the composting materials as they decompose into compost. They could be large plastic bins that can be purchased online or at a home-improvement store or they could be built out of wood or freestanding wire. Container bins are typically designed to be moved to a new location and can be lifted up as the composting process finishes.