Researching the feasibility of small-scale, rotational composting on small farms
Project lead: Allison Maikath
Funded by: The Shah Family Foundation
CFF's recently acquired Ecodrum™ Model 260 rotational, commercial composter gives our agricultural research team a living laboratory to better understand the optimal conditions for the on-site composting of organic waste materials, including animal manure, bedding materials, plant stalks, leaves, and other vegetative matter.
Some of the many advantages of an enclosed, rotary composting system (and comparable systems) over traditional open-air composting systems include: the promotion and production of beneficial micro-organisms that lead to increased water retention of soils, suppression of plant diseases and pests, enhanced soil quality, and promotion of higher crop yields. Enclosed systems also aid farmers by reducing the time and labor it takes to produce high-quality compost - from as long as a year to under a month - and offer a potential revenue stream from sales of quality, locally produced compost. Benefits to the community include the reduction of odor, elimination of runoff and potential groundwater contamination, and production of high-quality compost used as a soil amendment for more nutrient-dense food. All of these benefits afford ample opportunities for community engagement, and our composter has been sited on a central area of the Farm to facilitate our outreach efforts.