User avatar
Sage Hermit
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

Large Scale compost project.

Last week I thought about maybe starting my own compost business in MN on my farm. I have about 15 acres of land and want to begin next spring. Anyone know how I can start to produce a compost on a massive scale? I was thinking about cutting about 5 acres worth of hay and starting using that. I already have a mountain of compost but I want one that can supply me with compost for my own organic gardening and possibly to sell.
[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/ab3-2.jpg[/img]
Right now I have mainly leaves and grass piled up.

Would I need to dig a pit or what should I do?

We have earthworms in our soil. Should I start collecting them or order them online?
Sage Hermit
Last edited by Sage Hermit on Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

thebahamiangardener
Full Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:05 pm
Location: Bahamas

Thats great S.H . If you would need any materials for making it on a larger scale and continiously, you might need to send a formal letter to some of the restraunts asking them to separate compostable materials from the not compostable materials , and set them out for weekly pick up. I'm about to do this with some restraunts in my area.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27657
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I've heard several people mention digging a pit for a compost pile and I'm not sure where that info comes from, because compost pile is all about aeration. Putting the piles in a pit would inhibit the natural thermal movement to draw air in from the bottom and rise to the top... unless the pit or trench is designed to be some kind of an air channel UNDER the piles.

Most commercial or large scale compost piles I've seen photos of are pushed with front loaders into giant windrows.

thebahamiangardener has the right idea. You want to look for sources of material UNWANTED by others. In addition to restaurants, grocery stores are good. If you want to add to the community, you might also be able to set up a composting program with local schools or senior centers to separate out compostable cafeteria garbage.

I imagine your easiest sources of nitrogenous material, with some caveats and cautions in mind, are horse boarding stables since they'll need some way of getting rid of the manure/stable bedding, and would pay to have someone do it for them unless the stable is part of a farm that also grows vegetables/fruits. Caveat is that we've talked here in the Compost Forum about how heavily medicated horses -- especially show horses -- are, as well as the inevitable pesticides and other chemicals used in and around the stable area. There is also the possibility of herbicide-contaminated hay residue remaining in manure that can affect broad-leafed plants like vegetables.

For carbons, shredded leaves and wood chips seems to me to be another ready source of composting material that you would actually be PAID to haul away.

thebahamiangardener
Full Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:05 pm
Location: Bahamas

yeah ur right. some good info there speaking of which i'ma write my letters now to get my compost stuffs.

User avatar
Sage Hermit
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/FARMSUMMER046.jpg[/img]

Fancy that a horse pasture of 7 horses in view of the compost site!!
Would cow and chicken rabit deer even mouse manuere work too?


I have briefly spoken to my neighbors there owning the horses but I did some snooping and they don't maintain the manuere dropped in the pasture. They seem busy with little ones and their goats getting lost on my property :) I herded them back to their farm once :) Silly goats were inside my old sauna!

thebahamiangardener- you should message me a copy of your letter so I can see it.

Sorry for the confusion about the pit, I honestly have not fully grasped the compost science yet. I only know a little about hot and cold composting and the organisms and processes breaking down the material and their natural worth. For now I am running this idea past you all first to get your valuable feed back and also to keep you informed about what I am doing. My friend has a truck and we intend to truck in massive amounts of leaves/ grass / animal waste{with some caveats and cautions in mind}/ coffee / fish / anything we can get our hands on basically that is free.

The hard parts for me is knowing when its done, Monitoring and Maintaining, proper procedures etc.

applestar- thx for lookin out.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

large scale is a big deal

..

Composting on a large scale can be a big deal. It will take up lots of space. Require lots of water. Require a lot of labor. You will will also need to manage it so it doesn't bother your neighbors with issues like odors and water pollution. Watch your drainage.

Just how large scale do you intend to go? Industrial?

Please tread carefully before launching into this. I'm just a backyard operation and I have no idea what your situation is. I just know enough that you could lead yourself into trouble.

You've admitted not knowing too much about the process. Start with the basics. Note the scale being applied here.

https://www.compostinfo.com/

Then, more information than I want to know on the subject.

https://compost.css.cornell.edu/Composting_homepage.html

I'm sure the University of Minnesota has some resources to help you out too. Be sure to contact them. Look for all the local help you can get because you'll want information specific to your climate.

There are links to other websites that I've lost long ago to the US Composting Council and such that you should probably start searching out if you intend to go to industrial levels.

to sense

..

thebahamiangardener
Full Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:05 pm
Location: Bahamas

i pmed u a copy of the letter ,hermit thats is of sage.

Ramon
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:32 pm
Location: South Africa

Hi SH
its true that a compost heap hould be well ventilated. The most successful composting projects i have seen consists of a blower(huge fan) ventilating through a drum that spins at a given revolution / minute depending on the material used to create the compost. Have the effluent (run-off) water pumped back into the fresh heap to keep it moist. Not only will it keep it moist, but the water will also contain bacteria that you need to grow the compost heap.

Also consider pelletizing your compost into organic pellets that can be bagged and sold.

User avatar
Sage Hermit
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/ss.jpg[/img]

so I am looking at less than 100 x 100 feet

The blue lines mark water that I can pump for the compost and the river there is Pine River. Near the site is an old well house that we are fixing.
Last edited by Sage Hermit on Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:41 am, edited 5 times in total.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

AreaCode707
Full Member
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Mendocino County Wannabe

I don't know much about composting yet (newbie here) but my mom is always trying to give away their horse manure and while they have a lot of takers it's usually a few bucketfuls at a time. If someone wanted to come and take it all away every few months I'm sure she'd be delighted. There are probably lots of horse people in the same spot in your area. Look for horse boarding farms maybe.

User avatar
Sage Hermit
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

[img]https://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa267/adaba/Ninjas043.jpg[/img]
My compost piles is covered in sage! What is going on!? :o

This is going to turn into a purple flower show in a little bit.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27657
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I imagine that if you turn the pile just as they start to flower (when plants are supposed to be most nutrient-dense), you can use the sage as green manure and add to the compost greens.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

What's going on is that you must have had a ton of sage seeds in your compost pile (why you are the Sage Hermit, right?). And it suggests that your compost pile hasn't been running super hot.

I used to always have volunteer tomatoes and squash pop up where ever I put any of my compost down. Then I changed the way I managed my compost pile and it's been running hotter... no more volunteers!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

if you want to start a large scale composting business. you better find sources of bulk materials for composting. preferably waste material that is free or cheap. if you cant find bulk material. you cant compost on a large scale.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

thebahamiangardener
Full Member
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:05 pm
Location: Bahamas

as stated before by soil bulk materials are good cant find em you cant do the large scale composting.

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

It seems like any of the "large scale" composting operations that I have seen, are usually composting manures, instead of "crops" (hay, vegetable parts, etc...) .

Here is a place in TN that sells what they call "Royal Soil", made from horse manure/bedding ...
[url]https://www.compostfarm.com[/url]

Black Kow manure is composted in huge windrows ...
[url]https://www.blackkow.com/_html/howitsmade.htm[/url]

R-Grow is composted "chicken wastes and wood shavings" ...
[url]https://www.rollinsfarms.com/rgrow.htm[/url]

All of those web sites show some pictures of their production processes. So, that might at least give you some ideas.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

One good way to start a large scale composting operation would be to get a tree service business going as well. there are several around here that grind all the debris from tree take downs and sell as compost or mulch.

You would need to get a machine to aerate the compost. You could put an add in to collect yard waste and that could than become a business as well, people will pay to dump their yard waste as well.

There are so many variables here, i suggest starting off small, you could make money doing this. I have thought about this myself yet I don't have the land to do it on at this time.

Again start off small and you will learn the in's and out's of how to do it big time.

It would be really hard t sell compost unless you are getting HUGE amounts of C:N brought to you. There is no way you could do it with just what you have on your own land. Remember that a fresh compost pile will end up about 1/4 the size in the end as good rich humus.

Good luck

As stated elsewhere in this post, most people give away there horse manure and bedding. The place I go to almost pleads to me to fill up the truck when I only want a little bit. :lol:

User avatar
Sage Hermit
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Finlaysen, MN Coniferous Forest

small scale

my friend is a chef down at a local eatery. He drops off a garbage bags worth of egg shells and all that kitches scraps stuff every week. I have to look at it but its an ice cube. Im going to thaw out some and add all this to my piles. I think I got a spot thats innapropriate for large scale so I will be relocating the site. problem is its too close to the river and it drains heavily in the spring and is too close to where the horses drink from the ground up hill after rains. Poor horse's water was blocked when I got my property so I opened their access to water by cleaning a ditch of sticks and leaves. Horses like tomatoes! The horses jump their gate and come poop on my farm its no problem I scoop it all up. some goats ran in my old sauna hehe they were so cute.
there is a plenty of animal manuer in my area thats prolly free so I will get it. Lots of Pine needles and grass clippings. good ammount of leaves. organic kitchen scraps. Tree chips. What else do I really need? I want to see how much I can produce this year.


I still don't fully grasp this issue. Its more of a low tech small scale but it could become large scale.
You can solve all your problems in a garden/laboratory.

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

I think the road to large scale leads through small and medium scale. Keep practicing composting, and you will learn what works and what doesn't. You definitely want to make sure you have a good grasp of materials, mixing, and pile behavior, and the right equipment to handle the volume material at any given time. If things get ahead of you, there could be trouble.

Compost is a bulky, low-dollar product so the way people make money with it is to sell large volumes. Possibly a person could sell in smaller amounts, say at a farmer's market, by the bag, and turn a bigger profit per pound. Or through a network of friends and maybe on Craigslist. But usually it's large scale with big machines in order to make it viable. Not to discourage you, just ruminating about the industry.

One thing about runoff: consider making a berm downhill of your piles, constructed of high carbon material such as wood chips or sawdust. Large operations do this to capture runoff before it hits a waterway. Compost leachate, while very nutritious to plants, is very bad for streams because of the high organic content which translates into oxygen deprivation and fish kills.

Keep us posted!
Tox

Return to “Composting Forum”