Rex Harris of Piccadilly Park talks about his macadamia growing operation and the changes he has made to make his business more sustainable. In particular, he talks about cover cropping, composting and the use of biological solutions like the JPH compost turner.
Thoughts on using a JPH CT360 Windrow Turner.
Director of Production, Rockmin Compost Pty Ltd
Toowoomba , Queensland.
To whom it may concern.
My name is Chris Cameron, I currently live in South-East Queensland, and I have been working with Biological Agriculture for over 50 years, working out how best to restore productivity to our ancient and weathered Australian soils. The problem, once understood properly, is not difficult. We lack Organic Matter, many essential minerals have been leached out over the eons, and we lack beneficial soil biology in most areas.
About 20 years ago I managed to make the jump from garden scale compost making up to paddock scale, as well-made compost, and what can be blended with it, will quickly reverse most of our problems. My first major work was done with an old end loader, slow and inefficient, but effective in the end. Output with it was very low.
Over the intervening years I have worked with six different Compost Turners of varying types, American, European, Australian Factory built, Australian “home built”, and am currently using a Queensland designed and built JPH CT360, a tractor pulled, PTO driven machine.
It is quite different in design to any of the Turners I have used previously, in that it does not have a huge counterweight and hydraulics that allow the turning mechanism to stand upright for transport. Initially I felt this may be a problem if I got “bogged” in a new windrow, but after having run through, effectively, 20K tons of material I have had absolutely no problem. Without the huge counterweight the machine is light and easy to manoeuvre, the way it folds in behind the tractor for transport is quick, easy, and effective. As there is not a huge weight of machine ever up in the air, it is also far safer to work around!
With the obvious exception of using a Loader to turn windrows, every Turner I have used in the past has had a habit of throwing heavy bits forward, causing some glass breakages on the towing tractors, and needing special screens to prevent this happening, restricting somewhat the clear view of what is happening behind.
The very different “tyne and paddle” design of the JPH machine greatly reduces this and I run safely with no screen and the tractor back window open to give me the most uninterrupted view of what is happening. This is a great development!
This same drum design and layout, which is so different from the majority of Turners, is extremely efficient in doing the 3 tasks needed of a Turner: complete inversion of the windrow, rapid reduction of particle size, and even incorporation of mineral additives, if these are used. Feedlot manure, my main feedstock, can arrive in huge chunks almost as hard as concrete and these are rapidly reduced to a fine texture.
One of the best features of this machine is its extremely low power requirement! The biggest machine I used in North Queensland a monster spanning over 5M needed over 300hp to drive it, and the tractor struggled. I am pulling this JPH CT360, with a small tractor with about 80 PTO hp and its in-cab readout reports I am using barely 30% of available power for a full-sized windrow! This is exceptional!
On the service and maintenance side, everything that needs regular service is easy to see, and access. This means that maintenance is not ignored because it is too hard to do regularly.
I am delighted with this machine and would have no hesitation in recommending it, or its “brothers”, and plan on using more in the near future.
The tractor we are using, a JD6110R.
Normal windrow size, full width of machine being used, as the material settles.
Turning and watering.
Power usage indicator in tractor cabin.
Minerals ready to incorporate.
Turning in minerals.
Windrow after one incorporation pass.
Rockmin Compost Pty Ltd.
Composting is the breakdown of organic material into a dark, soil-like material where none of the original organic materials can be identified. Most organic waste materials can be used to make compost such as husks, manure, effluent, vegetable and plant waste, stubble and so on can be used.
There are three types of composting
- Vermicomposting – using composting worms
- Passive composting – the natural and slow decomposition of plant waste
- Active or Thermophilic composting – the rapid breakdown of organic material using machinery, heat and water to sterilise seeds and pathogens.
The Benefits of Composting
There are many benefits of using composting. The main benefits are the addition of organic matter, and micro flora and fauna. The organic matter provides food for soil life and increases stability of the soil so it becomes more resistant to erosion and compaction and holds more moisture. The micro flora and fauna are important in the recycling of nutrients within in the soil ecosystem.
What’s a soil ecosystem?
Most of a farm’s life exists underground and out of sight. Billions of organisms inhabit the soil, breaking down dead organic matter and releasing the nutrients necessary for plant growth. MICRO-organisms like bacteria, actinomycetes, algae and fungi, MACRO-organisms include earthworms and arthropods such as insects, mites and millipedes. Each group plays a role in the soil and assist the farmer in producing a healthy crop.
Adding Compost also:
- adds natural organic carbon (C)
- protects soil from erosion
- increases soil structural stability
- improves moisture holding capacity
- increases water infiltration and reduces water run off
- adds nutrients (as slow release)
- encourages a wide range of soil organisms.
What You Need to Make a Good Compost ?
The rules of composting are widely known and the same whether you are making a small pile for your own garden or a large commercial windrow for commercial production. The key elements needed when making good active or thermophilic compost are.
The micro flora and fauna require air and by turning the pile regularly and include a range of different sized and shaped materials. BUT, remember that large pieces of woody material will take much longer to break down than smaller ‘chips’.
Ideally, water content when composting should be 50 to 60% (it feels like a damp sponge but no water comes out when you squeeze it with your fingers). To make sure the compost pile stays wet enough during the composting process you will need to apply water to keep moisture up to the pile.
Good compost must have a balance of carbon-rich brown material (Straw, hay, woody material) and nitrogen rich green material (green leafy matter or manure) materials, to make the correct mix of carbon.
The Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio
The Carbon to Nitrogen ratio can be determined easily when you know the C and N values and weight of the product you are using. To calculate the C:N ratio, divide the total carbon % of your selected materials—or ingredients— by the total nitrogen % of your materials. You can have as many materials as you like.
An area suitable for composting
You will need to dedicate an area for at least 8–12 weeks. The area you identify should be relatively flat and free of stones, tree stumps, drainage lines and weeds (especially bulbous weeds). You can make a good base for the compost pile using crushed road base, granite or blue metal dust. There should be enough room for machinery needed to turn the compost. The pile should be located so it will not contaminate adjacent land or waterways via wind drift and water runoff.
If making a large amount of compost, you will need a Compost Turner or other machinery to turn the pile. A front-end loader or excavator will let you get started. Alternatively, you may consider using a contractor.
You may need to cover your pile if there is excessive rainfall.
How Do You Create Good Compost?
Constructing a pile
Mix all materials and construct a pile that is between 1.5 and 2 metres high and 2.5 to 3.6 metres wide. It can be as long as you need. Every 1 metre in length will make about 4 cubic metres (m3) of compost at these dimensions. Add water so that the pile is wet through but not soaked. Check a sample of material from the pile; if it glistens with water but doesn’t drip excess water then it is wet enough.
Turning the compost pile
After about one week, check the temperature in the pile. It should be between 50 and 650C (this is now considered a thermophilic compost). Use a shovel to dig a hole in the middle of the pile. You will probably notice steam rising and the compost should feel uncomfortably hot. You can check the temperature accurately with a thermometer or a data logger, which transfers temperature information to your computer. If the temperature is right, turn your pile about seven days after measurement, or when the temperature starts to decline. If the temperature is above 70oC turn the pile immediately and reduce pile height to a maximum of 1.5m.
When turning the pile, ensure the materials from the outside of the pile are placed on the inside. This can be achieved by rolling the pile over using a front-end loader or lifting the pile and dropping in its original place using an excavator.
Monitoring the temperature
Keep monitoring the temperature on a weekly basis and turn the pile after the correct temperature has been reached each time. The pile will probably need to be turned at least three times before the compost is ready for use but may need up to six turns, depending on the materials used. Once the pile has stopped producing heat let it ‘cure’ for at least two weeks before use.
NOTE: It is very important for the windrow or compost heap to reach about 60oC to kill any pathogens, seeds and to break down all the material properly. However, It should not get hotter than 70oC as this will reduce the nutrient and carbon value of your compost and kill beneficial decomposer organisms.
When Is It Ready?
Good quality compost will take about 6-8 weeks if done properly heaver products like macadamia husk can take up to 12 weeks. It’s important not to use compost before it is ready as the oganic matter will still be nitrogen will have been temporarily taken by the decay organisms and be unavailable to plants.
Good quality compost that’s read to be used has the following characteristics.
- Temperature; the windrow or pile has stopped getting hot.
- Smell; a nice earthy smell, with no bad, sour or rotting odour.
- Feel; The feel will be moist and earthy, not wet and sloppy or dry and powdery
- Look; A rich dark soil sized where none of the original organic materials is distinguishable.
If you would like to know more the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate produces a 4 page publication by to provide existing or prospective operators of composting facilities with the background information when establishing a commercial composting operation. This guide is also a reference guide to the large volume of resources readily available and accessible.
- WHAT IS COMPOSTING?, Aerobic and anaerobic composting and Vermiculture
THE BENEFITS OF COMPOST, Soil conditioner and greenhouse gas abatement
GETTING STARTED, The right ingredients, conditions and processes
Gaining the right Local Government approvals, RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND USEFUL GUIDELINES
According to BioCycle the US now has over 4,713 Organic Recycling facilities, BioCycle editors collected the most recent data has United States had compiled about organics recycling activities. A one-page questionnaire was completed by 43 states and the District of Columbia, primarily by officials in state solid waste agencies whose responsibilities include organics recycling. Data submitted was from Calendar Years 2015-2017.
The 2017 State of Organics Recycling In The U.S. survey requested information on both composting and anaerobic digestion infrastructure and regulations. While several solid waste agency officials who responded had data on anaerobic digestion activity in their state, the majority did not, as municipal and on-farm anaerobic digestion operations typically fall under the purview of other state agencies. As a result, BioCycle utilized other sources to collect data on anaerobic digestion.
The Big Picture
The 2017 State of Organics Recycling In The U.S. snapshot survey found a total of 4,713 composting facilities. Table 1 breaks down that total number by facility types. Yard trimmings composting represents the largest number of operations in the U.S. — 2,698 or 57.2 percent of all facilities in the U.S. There are 249 composting sites that process yard trimmings and food scraps, and 620 that process multiple organics, which include feedstocks such as yard trimmings, food scraps, livestock manure and industrial organics. Massachusetts, for example, reports 185 composting facilities processing multiple organics and did not include any sites in the yard trimmings only or yard trimmings and food scraps only categories.
As noted, data on anaerobic digestion facilities came primarily from other sources — the U.S. EPA AgSTAR database for farm digestion (last updated in August 2017), the Water Environment Federation database on anaerobic digesters at municipal wastewater treatment plants (2014 data), and the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation for data on codigestion at wastewater treatment plants (2016 data). Only four of the 43 states completing the survey provided their own AD data.
“Oxenthorpe”, northwest of Molong, had 10 owners in 100 years because, “no-one could make it work”. But thanks to compost owner Stephen Leisk, is in the middle of an eight year composting program that is literally transforming his land from quite marginal country, to a viable farm. Stephen laughs as he describes the 162-hectare holding about 650 metres above sea level on east-facing slopes comprised of granite sandy loam hot with aluminium as “the plot no-one wanted”.
He bought “Oxenthorpe” 14 years ago and initially couldn’t make it work either. “We tried cattle and it was a disaster, we were running 27 cows, we sacked them and bought ewes. “With sheep it wasn’t much better, but we managed 12 days’ grazing a year per hectare and were running 100 sheep.” Over 10 years he watched in pain as thousands of dollars of synthetic fertiliser dissipated into what is essentially sand atop an inhospitable subsoil.
Success with a new Approach
Using a spreader, 16ha of Mr Leisk’s property where treated with a “black lime compost” blend, one part lime to four parts compost. “I don’t like seeing plumes of material I’ve paid for blowing away in the wind,” Blending the compost with lime eliminates the usual plumes that follow a spreader, said Mr Leisk. “Mixing the lime and compost, the compost seems to act like a magnet, not only does it stop the lime blowing around, but it stabilises it and extends its life,”. “The compost also holds moisture and adds carbon to the soil, and carbon is the driver of everything.”
READ MORE www.theland.com.au
Major US city’s like New York and San Francisco amps up food recycling, with San Francisco showing the way.
The New York City Mayor announced a plan to increase composting of food scraps generated by the city’s eight million inhabitants. In a few years, separation of food waste from general refuse could be required of residents, the mayor said.
This follows as a number of other cities around the united states already require food scrap recycling, including San Francisco San Francisco’s ” Zero Waste program” and Seattle, but the idea has been slower to catch on in New York, where critics worried that the urban density may make it more difficult—and possibly smellier. But closing the loop between composting leading to healthy soils which grows healthy local food was key in the success of this program.
READ MORE nationalgeographic.com
READ MORE www.alternet.org/
Have you ever considered the value of the Farm waste material around your property?
Maybe it’s time to take a look at composting
Over the last few years there has been a steady movement returning to “old school” farming practices like use of manures, composting and remineralisation. Farmers are realising that what we have been told about, nitrogen is not the complete picture with real concern about decline in soil structure and soil/herd health.
The challenges of skyrocketing production costs, both fertilisers and feed, compacted soils and increased runoff meaning less rain utilisation and increased irrigation costs. It’s now becoming clear that many consultants and industry groups don’t fully understand all the issues related to declining soil health.
OZ Turners and JPH Equipment offers a complete solution to reducing on-farm fertiliser costs by composting using our CT Series of compost Turners. It’s not just about selling a piece of machinery but providing to you all the practical expertise in how to continually produce an top grade soil remediation product.
Watch our videos to find out more