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Composting problems

Posted by Rio_Grande (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 13, 14 at 13:24

We composted large quantities of hay and manure for years without issue. We got out of the cattle business and our compost efforts have suffered. We truck in 24x40 trailer loads of leaves mix with old hay and what chicken manure the chickens produce. The piles just don't cook down near as fast as they used to. When we added cow manure to our piles in the past I could cook down 2 trailer loads in about 3 months. We stayed in constant supply. Now we have a tough time doing 2 a year. We turn it with the skid steer regulary. This winter it diddnt always steam. In the past it would keep you warm in the loader.

Do we need more manure or can we get away. With spreading nitrogen based fertilizer on the piles?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Composting problems

Have you considered;
A. Alowing a local dairy, poltury or livestock feeding operation free dump site.
B. Offering your trailer to be loaded by them.
C. Hireing out to clean stables or stalls with the skid steer.
Being experienced with manure is reason to try and continue rather than working out a new procedure.


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RE: Composting problems

What was the ratio of manure to hay back then?
What is the ratio of manure to leaves now?


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RE: Composting problems

Short answer, yes, high nitrogen fertilizer would work.

Another alternative not yet mentioned is to have more piles and let each cook longer. You'll still have a constant supply coming out, the pipeline is just running slower. All depends on whether you have the room.


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RE: Composting problems

"have more piles and let each cook longer"

Good advice tox,it comes down to using what's at hand and let nature do the rest. Not saying we are doomed for eternal flames by our current lifestyle,but one needs to step back and realize we don't need everything around us going at warp speed to be succesful. My children and grandchildren take great satisfaction from trees we planted as pecans and acorns when each child was 8 or 10 years of age.


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RE: Composting problems

Previously we would tear a old round bale up and add manure till we had a 40 ish foot wind row about 3 feet tall by 4-5 base. We can do several of those as needed. Now we probably dump 1 24 foot trailer load to a years worth of chicken manure from about 30 hens. Sometimes there will be a couple other additions but that is about average.
Consistency wise I think we put a lot more browns in now as opposed to more green before.

We garden about 2 acres of veggies and an acer of sweet corn. With our clay soils even on the scale we used to make compost we were behind.

We have access to tons of dairy manure but the trucking of it almost balances out to buying it cooked. Problem there is the mass quantity of determine tall bugs and trash that comes from the bought stuff.


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RE: Composting problems

Canvass roofers and landscapers to find one with a dump trailer who will transport manure from the diary at reasonabl price. I appoligize,I took it you owned the trailer which hauls leaves. If you have a vehicle capiable of towing perhaps the dairy will lend/rent a trailer.
I use green grass and weeds which I catch while mowing near hvac equipment and other places clippings cause concurn as an N source.


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RE: Composting problems

  • Posted by subk3 7a/MidTn (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 17:11

What about water content? Sounds like you might be working with drier components. If your screen name is indicative of your location that would make the moisture even more important to the mix. I compost a ton of horse manure and stall waste and I think the water content of the manure as well as the urine in the bedding play a role in the process.


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RE: Composting problems

I have faced similar problems and have laid up piles that should have steamed away that did nothing. I believe that the herbicide grazon has ruined almost all dairy and feedlot manure as well as manure from most horse stables. I recently found horse manure I know to be chemical free and it is heating well. I have posted several times that leaves should not be added to manure based composting. Leaves are not a part of the prairie/grazing eco-system and they decay fungally, not bacterially. My opinion is not popular on this forum where posters prefer calling them "browns". Interestingly our community's sewer plant tried adding leaves to get a hot compost and gave it up immediately and use chipped bark instead.


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RE: Composting problems

  • Posted by subk3 7a/MidTn (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 22:08

"I believe that the herbicide grazon has ruined almost all dairy and feedlot manure as well as manure from most horse stables."

The only problem with that theory is that Grazon being a broadleaf weed killer would NOT be used on fields with alfalfa and clover--it is generally used for grass hays as it will kill legumes. Alfalfa makes up a significant amount of the hay crop used for horses and cattle. It is generally considered the best overall forage choice for dairy cows.


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RE: Composting problems

All you have to do about persistent herbicides is ask your manure supplier if the hay they feed is sprayed with any of them that are known to survive the gut and end up in the manure.

Back to the original question: I wonder if you could use sheet composting, or lay down compostables as mulch between your rows? It will decompose in place and feed the soil and plants, plus create a very active microbial environment that's good for the whole system. Fewer piles, better moisture retention in hot dry weather. Maybe you already do this as much as you are able, just thought I'd mention it. I use grass clippings/sawdust/leaves mix for summer garden mulch, works great.


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RE: Composting problems

2.4-D has been used on pastures for years, but ag laws have required the owner to keep his animals off pasture for one week after spraying. grazon is 2,4-D plus piclorom. the chem companies got legislators to allow grazon to e sprayed with animals in the pasture. since dairymen never have enough pasture, grazon is being used by almost all of them and the piclorom ruins the manure totally.


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RE: Composting problems

Totally ruined may be a bit overstated. It definitely takes longer for it to biodegrade than would normally be required to produce good compost - like an extra season. I think we've discussed this here in other threads and the time required has been fairly well established. There's also the variability in concentration depending on how much was in the manure to start with, and how much bedding or other compostables it was diluted with in the pile. Of course it's impossible to know w/o testing, so if you know it's in there, you have to assume a plant-killing amount and act accordingly.

It's a turrible thing that industry and the regulators need to fix.


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