CarterNox
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1st time composting!!

I'm very new to this, so I literally don't know ANYTHING about it. I've been doing some research but I get a little bit of varying and also not much detail.

I work on a farm and I am in a position to start new things or come up with new ideas. We are a crop farm and throw out a lot of produce that comes back from markets. When I say a lot I mean, we have one of those dumpsters that you would find at like fast food restaurants and each week we fill that about a quarter with old produce and also during the beginning of the year (flower season as we call it), we have a lot of old flowers we throw out also. I don't know much about this but it just seems like we could be doing something else instead of throwing it all away.

I like the idea of composting but my boss thinks things like this would take up too much time and are unnecessary. I disagree but I need information. I don't need someone to give me an entire class on this because I know people have better things to do but I need help. If anyone can point towards good topics or sites that lay it all out as if I was the dumbest person. I need a lot of guidance. Also if going through most of the topics in this forum will help I will do that to.

Well I guess thats about it. Thank you very much in advance and if there is any information such as what materials we have, what kinds of things we throw out, etc. I can give you all that no problem.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with you, what a terrible waste and shame.

The question to make it work would be what do you have to put with it. Check out the sticky at the top of this thread re greens and browns. All the food and flowers you mention are "greens" (soft/ moist). Trying to pile them by themselves could result in a slimy, stinky mess.

So you need to layer them with some "browns" (hard/dry), mostly some kind of wood/ paper product. So if you have a source of sawdust, fall leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, ground up tree trimmings, etc etc, at least half the volume of the green stuff you were talking about, you are in business!

Then the only other thing you need is some space to pile all this stuff where it can sit for a few months and decompose and a way to water it enough to keep it a bit moist. If you get enough rain, that will take care of itself, otherwise it will need some watering.

It can be very low effort, just pile your stuff up in layers, preferably drill some holes in PVC pipes and stick them down in to help aerate, and let it sit for six months or so. As you get more stuff you can keep making new piles. Helps to mix in a little bit of good garden soil now and then to add some biology and maybe a few earthworms to help get it started (if the piles are sitting on the ground, the earthworms will come).

If this is a commercial farm, maybe you can convince them on this as a new product... Check this out:

https://www.gardensalive.com/product.asp?pn=0426&sid=140643

selling compost for $12 + S&H for a 16 qt bag! Could be a real money maker from your free stuff.
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Dixana
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I very mush agree with RBG but it might also be worth taking a peek at bokashi. Bokashi is a good way to get rid of large quantities of food stuff. It could be tilled into the fields of the farm come fall to provide nutrients for the next years crop!
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
-Gandhi

CarterNox
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Okay about adding the browns, we have a lot of cardboard boxes that come into the farm. Would those work like if we shredded them up or something?

Also right now we have been getting inches of rain because the weather is going a bit crazy. Can the piles get too much rain, would that hurt it?

The Helpful Gardener
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Carter, do you have access to a bucket loader or skidsteer?

Compost is mostly about turning, and if you can turn that stuff regularly, it turns into soil fast... The right machine turns it into a fifteen minute job for a huge pile. I found forks on a Bobcat aerates a pile really quick if you don't have the time to use the bucket (more complete turning with the bucket)...

Put some compost back on soil and watch the productivity of that field go back up. Do a row by row comparison for the boss. See if he finds time for that pile...

Better yet show him my friend George who quit farming because he makes better money for his organic compost ($45 a yard!). There's money in them old veggies!

HG
Scott Reil

CarterNox
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We actually do have a bobcat with both a bucket and fork attachment. We have just about everything. Thats why i came here. I'm trying to find more efficient ways for doing lots of things on our farm.

I plan on doing quite a bit of research. I like really knowing about something before I try it, especially when proposing something new to my bosses (Who HATE change), but I really think this would be good for our place.

Well at least I have a good start.

The Helpful Gardener
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George isn't the only farmer I know doing compost as a sideline; another aquaintance Jack has turned it into a huge part of his dairy operation. Not making as much per yard as George (no USDA Organic Certification), but it is still great compost and he's making good money and building the soil in his owm fields (a manure spreader does more than just manure...)

Think about turning it into a cash crop; ask the folks here what they would do for a good farm compost nearby. Bet you can sell a couple of tons a week once the landscrapers and gardeners discover you....

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Scott Reil

CarterNox
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Like I said I don't know anything about this so another question. If they did this and it worked and they decided to sell it, would they have to do any special paperwork or anything extra or would it just be something else they sell on the farm?

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rainbowgardener
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depends on whether they wanted it certified organic or not...
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CarterNox
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Okay, well thank you very much. This is a good start. I will keep researching and hopefully some good will come of this.

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farmerlon
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Also, if your boss doesn't want to "work" at the composting, you could always "sheet compost" all that material.
Simply dump the material on a vacant patch of your garden or farm, and till or plow it into the soil... nature will take it from there.

Just remind your boss that he's "throwing away money" if he doesn't put that plant material to use. :)

jdfreeman28
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Somethings for you to consider in your approach to selling the idea to your boss.
1. Are you are paying to have the dumpster emptied? If so composting would elimate that expense.
2. Are you buying fertilizer for the crops? Compost is another money saver.
3. Consumers want 'organic' and 'natural' approaches to the way their fruits and veggies are grown. It would be a great advertising and PR for the farm. Send out press releases and make signs saying you 'recycle' the food waste into a natural fertilizer for the food they are buying. Consumers LOVE that.
4. The farm could also add revenue by SELLING the compost. I am sure many gardnerers or farmers in the area would love to buy compost.

As you can tell by my ideas I am a business/marketing person. Sometimes it comes down to the bottom line. If you can sell him on the idea that it is not a waste of time because composting can actually save and produce him additional revenue he hadn't considered he may see the light (or $$ signs!).
Jennifer

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