Friday, September 24, 2010

Manure + Sawdust + Time = Compost

I don't have time this morning to go into the advanced math (and science) that goes into composting. But it really can be as simple as the formula above. And, if you don't have manure and sawdust, you can substitute other things. Nitrogen (green stuff) + Carbon (brown stuff) + Time = Compost. You might have to fiddle with the C:N ratio, and add air (turning) and/or moisture, but you'll get there from here.

Here's a load of carbon being brought to the farm. For years we've used the sawdust from a local furniture manufacturer as our carbon source. It's been (essentially) free, and a great option for us AND them. Companies like to talk about zero level waste streams and the fact that they're involved in green initiatives.

But with economic hardship comes necessary cost cutting. One of the direct results of this cost cutting is bits of white plastic throughout the sawdust. Now tell me--who would want to use compost with plastic in it? After lots of discussion, we were told this week that the plastic is there to stay for the foreseeable future.

End of sawdust stream.

This is a load of sawdust purchased from a pallet manufacturer. Not nearly as nice and fine as the wood flour we're used to. But it contains no plastic!

So we can continue to compost. But it now costs us almost as much to buy the sawdust as we earn from the finished product. Hmmm...working for free, again.

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