Composting Is in Our Future, Part Two

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Paul Misciagno
Composting is an intimidating and rather off-putting task that must be done if we want to survive and live sustainably.

We need to be responsible and understand that soil is one of the most important things on this planet, and recycling food waste to build soil is vital. Our soil down here in South Florida is either sand or rock depending how far south you are and needs organic matter to support plant growth.

In my last article we discovered what compost is and some methods to actually do it; this article will focus on the in-vessel compost tumbler.

Dairy Farm in Okeechobee
A big problem for large scale dairy farms is what to do with all the poo? Cow manure, or any animal manure for that matter, and how to handle it is an ongoing problem for farmers. I have been working with cow manure from Butler Oaks Dairy Farm in Okeechobee, Florida for about eight years now. This is a conventional dairy farm with about 1,500 head of cattle for milking. Butler Oaks purchased a 96 yard in-vessel compost tumbler from South Dade Soil and Water Conservation District (SDSWCD) and composts their cow manure into a certified organic fertilizer. In-vessel composters can take in and give out 1/3 of the capacity per day. This size unit can produce over 30 yards per day!

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Farmer Jay
Butler Oaks' 96 yard composter makes a certified Organic compost.
SDSWCD markets in-vessel composters or compost tumblers, but the main focus of this organization is to conserve water and protect our soil (duh). I met Bill Townshend, who is their main composting guru, while I was working at The Breakers and we were considering a composter to digest food waste from the hotel. He is stationed out of Florida City, but travels all over the country to teach about this great technology. He has been my go to guy for anything I want to know about composting and we are lucky to have him here in our area.


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