Why on-farm composting?
Composting started a long time ago and is still practiced today. It has only been pushed aside by the introduction of chemical fertilisers during the 19th century. On certain farms there are a lot of waste products available which, if not composted, will become part of a waste pile, be burned or dumped in a hole.
Farmers who decide to start a compost site can reap a range of benefits. Some of these benefits include enhanced soil structure, water holding capacity, reduced fertiliser requirements and prevention of soil erosion. Not to mention all the environmental benefits composting provides.
For instance, "a commercial farming company based in Limpopo and a world leader in tomato production, has introduced the concept of Nature Farming to their operations. Since 2002 the farming enterprise has implemented a programme for the gradual conversion of all its farming activities from a predominantly conventional chemical to a more ecologically balanced nature farming approach. They aim to achieve long-term improvement and stabilisation of the soil and optimum sustainable yields through the use of compost and manures, compost tea, Effective Micro-organisms (EM), bioproducts, minimum tillage, cover crops and crop rotation."
There are several systems that farmers can use to meet their needs and options vary from labour, cost, time and size.
Listed below are just a few examples:
- Passive Composting of Manure
- Piles Windrow Composting
- Passively Aerated Windrows
- Aerated Static Pile
- Sample Calculation: Aerated Static Pile-Aeration System Design
- In-Vessel Composting
For more information on on farm composting visit the useful links below: