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11 Dec 2019 | Soil management

Biodynamic composting

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70% Complete

Biodynamic composting is a faster way of producing compost. Here the compost is made on the surface, rather than in the traditional pit. The heap is energised using a set of preparations that both enhance the nutrient content of the compost and hasten the decomposition process. The compost heap is built on a flat site away from tree shade and water logging. A rectangle around 2m wide and 4m long is marked out (the actual size depending on the biomass availability). A ‘wind tunnel’ of logs is placed lengthwise in the middle of the rectangle.

The rectangle is covered with a first layer of dry matter about 22cm thick which is then drenched and completely covered with cow dung slurry or goat manure. This is covered with a 15cm thick layer of green matter, which is sprinkled with water and covered with a thin layer of soil. The third layer again consists of 15cm of dry matter which is sprinkled with water and 30 kg of rock phosphate (which enhances decomposition and provides phosphorous). The fourth layer is again 15 cm of green matter which is sprinkled with water and covered with a layer of 30 kg crushed slaked lime (which also enhances decomposition). The fifth layer is more dry matter which is sprinkled with water and with cow dung slurry or goat manure. The sixth and final layer is 22 cm of green matter which is sprinkled with water and completely covered with cow dung or goat manure. The heap is plastered with a mixture of soil and cow dung (3:1) over the top and sides.

The final height of the compost heap is just over a metre. Any cracks in the plaster are immediately sealed with plastering slurry. Samples can be taken from 2-3 sides of the heap to check whether the compost is ready. The sample is crushed and smelt. A smell like forest soil indicates that degradation is 70-80% complete and the compost ready for use. Generally, compost is ready within 8-12 weeks (depending on the time of year).

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