Composting isn’t a new technique, but it has plenty of small nuances that are easy to miss. What’s more, every farm’s layout is different, leading to the need to make adjustments to find the right balance. If your compost isn’t breaking down correctly, there’s a good chance it’s one of these simple mistakes composting facilities make.
Failing To Aerate Sufficiently
Few people realize just how essential aeration is to composting—but it’s so essential that if there are signs your compost isn’t breaking down right, lack of aeration is likely playing a significant role. Compost piles are essentially alive, as they’re teeming with insects and microorganisms. These different life-forms do the work of breaking down any materials added to the piles. However, only the harshest life-forms—and often the unwanted toxic ones—can survive in unpleasant environments. For example, failing to aerate deprives a windrow of the essential oxygen that allows good bacteria to thrive, and it can also contribute to a core temperature that’s too high to nurture microorganisms.
Skimping on Hydration
Another of the more common commercial composting mistakes to avoid is not watering enough. Just as most life-forms require a continuous infusion of fresh air, water is another vital component of life. Even simple life-forms such as bacteria depend immensely on water. Failing to hydrate windrows will effectively slow decomposition to a crawl. It may also encourage unwanted vermin to burrow into the dry compost pile, making it home to destructive beetles and mice rather than valuable worms.
The best way to maintain hydration is to build watering windrows into normal farm routines. Utilize the right-size water tank to make the task more manageable as well.
Adding the Wrong Materials
The compost mix is one of the most important factors that ensure the composting process will complete at regular and predictable intervals. What goes into the pile matters very much. Naturally, the first step is to avoid detrimental materials such as meats and dairy. Such items rot rather than decompose in the way plant matter does. What’s more, the smells they produce will attract unwanted vermin to raid or occupy the pile.
Next, avoid woody or tough materials without first processing them into finer portions. Rigid materials will take too long to break down, and you may need to sort them out month after month. Finally, always use a quality mix of green and brown material. Brown materials include dead or dried plant material; green includes fresh items such as new grass clippings. A quality mix will break down much more rapidly.