There is no magic, no shortcuts. There is only MANAGEMENT.
Composting is simply a matter of making the indigenous microbes and fungi very, very happy.
If these bacteria are kept at their optimum environmental conditions: plenty to eat, good room temperature, and lots and lots of fresh air, they will perform their natural work – making finished compost, in record time without odours.
PLEASE: If you want high numbers of indigenous bacteria and fungi in your compost, give them time to multiply while composting your bulking. Straw is good for composting, but will decompose very quickly. This will give you a fair count of microbes and finished product within 2 weeks or so. But if you use wood chips, and other more bulky organic material this will decompose slower and will allow your microbes to really multiply 100 fold more, this will ensure the microbes have food during this process which could take up to 12 weeks. In my mind it is all about the numbers!!
This is our attempt to explain how our Ritlee Rhino TM and SP range of turners helps create this near perfect environment. The following cross sectional drawing illustrates the concept of Windrow Dynamics for all of us laymen. It is not designed to be a technical presentation. Windrow Dynamics is basically the natural or unassisted airflow and subsequent bacterial activity of an undisturbed windrow caused by the rising of heated air.
represents what I call the “Dead Zone”, or the anaerobic spot that normally begins immediately in a newly formed windrow
which is the most active zone, becomes the hottest and has the most biological activity. This zone is the ideal zone. It can be the “Sweet Spot” of composting. However, temperatures will rise too high in this zone and begin to destroy beneficial bacteria.
is the least compact zone in the entire row. It is cooler than Zone 2 but warmer than Zone 3. Bacterial activity in this zone slows down rapidly as the moisture evaporates and cool air penetrates it.
Forming the Zones
In most new windrows, other than straight yard debris, Zone # 3 begins to form immediately and increases in size rapidly. The little oxygen that exists is consumed rapidly, and the relatively high moisture content of the material begins to settle here. Zone # 2 is basically un definable yet but begins to form as a result of an active Zone # 1, which remains small but active. If the row is not mixed and aerated soon it will all become Zone # 3. This is the most critical point because the odours generated can be the cause of site closing ODOURS. These Zones must be refreshed promptly. All the material must change places and preferably must change zones. This brings us to the action of our Ritlee turners.
There are three basic operations of the Ritlee TM3: The first is continued particle size reduction without creating anaerobic pockets, in fact it crumbles these pockets. It does not grind or pulverize the material, However, as the structural integrity of the material weakens due to bacterial activity the collisions caused by the vortex action within the tunnel begins shattering the weakened particles into smaller jagged shaped pieces. This increased surface area dramatically accelerates microbial activity. It is widely known that bacteria work only on the surface of the material. The more surface area that can be exposed, the more bacteria the material can support. Thus accelerating material breakdown resulting in a higher percentage of finished product. This brings us to the next basic operation of the Ritlee TM3
Our TM3, at 300 meters per hour ground speed turns 450cu meter compost per hour. With the specially designed rotor with its spatula type blades which work to the centre from both sides allows phenomenal volumes of fresh air flow (Oxygen) through the row, and at the same time expels the CO2 buildup. Forcing air in the material which is very important, keeping it there is vital. To retain as much of this air as possible is critical NOT to squeeze the material like a sausage maker as it comes out the rear of the tunnel.
The throwing action of the rotor forms and shapes the discharge pile, not the shape of the tunnel. This action creates a porosity unequalled by any other turning device. Virtually every study on odours shows a direct correlation between lack of oxygen and the presence of odours. It’s only “Common Sense” to retain as much oxygen as possible to ensure maximum Windrow Dynamics.