A Compost Turner’s Journey

How do I spell LOVE?  C-O-M-P-O-S-T   T-U-R-N-E-R!

A compost turner. Photo source: autrusa.comAlthough there are many ways in which love echoes in my heart, I must admit that our brand new compost turner causes my heart to swell! This long-awaited piece of equipment has been making its way to our farm since February, traversing the Atlantic Ocean in order to make its home here in Central PA. All the way from Austria!  “Why on earth,” you might ask, “does this inanimate piece of farm equipment rouse so much love and joy?” I suppose that when you have had your eye on something for so long, admiring it from afar, that when the dots finally connect it feels like a dream come true.  I might even wager to share that Matt feels the same way, too!

Compost turner, model CMC ST-250. Image source: breakitdown.com.au

The compost turner represents a shift in our ability to better manage fertility on the DC Farm; from the ground up, so to speak.  As an organic farm, we aspire to develop strategies that continue to improve soil quality by way of managing the resources available to us. In our case, that resource is food waste.

Since before the DC Farm became a reality, we have been turning food waste into compost; several hundred pounds of it on a daily basis!  Our means of managing our compost piles has not been ideal; slow and inefficient with inconsistent results.  What once took us many person-hours to do will now take minutes (literally!), leaving a finished product that is high quality.  As stewards of the soil, having quality compost to inoculate and fertilize our soil is a step in the right direction.  Though we are not masters of making compost, the compost turner will lend us a huge hand toward improving our approach.

As a machine, the compost turner is pulled alongside the tractor and straddles our compost “windrows”.  As the tractor pulls the turner, beaters on a central shaft rotate through the pile, aerating and homogenizing the materials within the pile.  This process of compost management will enable us to go from “raw food waste” to “finished compost” in three months.  Up until now, the same process took us a year!  Holy cow – now you know why I am in awe of this machine!

Suffice it to say that we are very, very happy with our newest purchase and what it represents in terms of maintaining long-term soil health at the DC Farm! -Jenn

Watch a YouTube video of a similar (and larger) tractor-pulled compost turner.

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