Composting Dung??

Jason

Member
Location
South West
Evening all,

Over the years have seen some interesting talk on here about composting muck / making compost... everything from stacking dung under trees to incorporate leaf litter and additional fungi to talk of regular turning to minimise temperatures and ideal C:N ratio's??

In short I have got hold of several hundred tonnes of deep litter cattle manure from a local farm, its been in the shed at 3' deep since last winter - looks wet and anaerobic when you put a spade into it but on other hand the beasts are bedded on a nice mix of straw and woodchip and animals are by no means high input in terms of feed or medication etc - a biologically active start in principle?

What to do from here? Will be tipped on field headland under hedge / trees by necessity, worth sending a sample off to Laverstoke from the outset?

Thanks
 
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Kidds

Member
Horticulture
Tip it in the tallest pile possible where it will catch as much rain as possible. Not under trees.
It needs water to rot down.
Just my opinion and probably illegal in this day and age.
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
We're ok on that front @rob1 ! I'm really wondering if there is any value in entering into the composting process with a material that has been sat for 9 months and is clearly anaerobic... can this be 'brought back to life' as such through turning etc? I'm interested in these lab tests offered at Laverstoke too? Any thoughts appreciated.
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
I agree @damaged on the weed seeds , being sensible it will need to be ploughed down if not well composted as cattle are fed on a hay from a variety of sources and straw bought on price. Given that i've posted it here you can guess i'm not keen to plough it in though!
 

damaged

Member
Location
Gloucestershire
I wouldn't bother with a lab test knowing I would spread it eventually regardless of results.
"Where there's muck, there's brass"
I often wonder how sending straw back to the field via animal bedding compares to just chopping it back.
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
I know what your saying, the appeal of the lab test was potentially assessing the biological elements, think @Simon C made a comment on another thread about his good biologically active compost spread at 4t/acre giving 1t/ha of yield benefit... this sounds great relative to sourcing and applying about 16t to the acre of straight FYM!
 
I know what your saying, the appeal of the lab test was potentially assessing the biological elements, think @Simon C made a comment on another thread about his good biologically active compost spread at 4t/acre giving 1t/ha of yield benefit... this sounds great relative to sourcing and applying about 16t to the acre of straight FYM!

Just a little extra detail, you may find it better to analyse the compost for the NVZ regs as they require that you don't apply more than 250kgN/ha total N. And from the other thread the compost had been applied over a number of years to gradually increase soil fertility, so a yield increase in a single application would, I suggest, be slight.
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
We are blessed in that this parcel of ground is not in an NVZ but thanks anyway. I'm mainly thinking of measuring / potentially stimulating good and additional biology within the FYM in terms of getting an analysis, with P&K then accounted for and any crop available N a real bonus.
 
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Simon C

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Essex Coast
I know what your saying, the appeal of the lab test was potentially assessing the biological elements, think @Simon C made a comment on another thread about his good biologically active compost spread at 4t/acre giving 1t/ha of yield benefit... this sounds great relative to sourcing and applying about 16t to the acre of straight FYM!

Just to get this straight, I was talking about one ton to the acre yield increase from just one application of compost at 4 tons/acre. I know plenty on here will say I am talking rubbish with this claim but I am not going to get into an argument about it, take it or leave it, I don't care.

@Jason I have been making compost for about 8 years, sometimes it goes really well, as above, and sometimes not so well. The trouble is there are so many variables that it becomes more of an art than science, the more experience you get, the more gut feeling you have about whether the mix is right- C:N ratio, moisture content, temperature, biology, etc.

Last year I had some horse muck delivered in which had been in a bunker for about a year, half of it looked black and quite well rotted but was wet and anaerobic which I spread straight away and the rest was less rotted, there was still a fair amount of straw visible, but it was still too wet. This I tried to compost it but it would never heat up much and will be spread next week but I am not expecting it to do much for the crop or the soil. In hindsight, I could perhaps have mixed it some straw to get the composting going, this would have added some more carbon, dried it out a bit and stopped it slumping and getting it more aerated. Sometimes this works, sometimes in doesn't. I have to say that the stuff I spread straight away ended up being useless and was a waste of time.

Without seeing you cattle muck it is difficult to know, but from what you say it sounds like it is going to be too wet and heavy and therefore difficult to keep any air in it, but you will be able tell yourself by the way it tips out of the trailer. I don't want to put you off, because we all have to start somewhere, just do not be too disappointed if you don't get massive yield increases first time!

Animal manure and compost are two completely different things, even though one can be turned into the other. The first is just fertiliser, the second is a biological amendment, the difficult bit is getting the conversion to work properly.
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
Thanks @Simon C , I fully understand this is going to be an on-going process but your experiences demonstrate that it is and can be worthwhile - your not selling anything when saying it so why would you lie!

I have 100t or so of bunkered horse manure at my disposal too as it happens, these are mostly bedded on shavings which I would of thought to be in the low 100's in terms of C:N ratio? Think sawdust is ~500:1 in the book?

Good point on adding straw for aeration purposes but I then assume its likely to then need more N to compensate... I quite see how it becomes an art form as you say! At my sort of scale is turning various heaps of FYM / horse manure / added straw with a tractor and loader on say a weekly basis a for start and assess the various mixes as I go?
 

Simon C

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Essex Coast
Thanks @Simon C , At my sort of scale is turning various heaps of FYM / horse manure / added straw with a tractor and loader on say a weekly basis a for start and assess the various mixes as I go?

This is how I started but it does take a long time turning a pile one bucket at a time. The old compost turner I bought revolutionised the job. You may have a dry area to work, but I find I can only make compost in the summer because the ground around soon gets churned up. I think @martian is having a go with a 360 which should operate without making too much mess.

 

rob1

Member
Location
wiltshire
This is how I started but it does take a long time turning a pile one bucket at a time. The old compost turner I bought revolutionised the job. You may have a dry area to work, but I find I can only make compost in the summer because the ground around soon gets churned up. I think @martian is having a go with a 360 which should operate without making too much mess.

Wow I could do with one of those
 

Jason

Member
Location
South West
I can borrow a decent sized 360, good thinking! What about paper crumble as a constituent part? I can get hold of as much of that as I want, from virgin pulp and has a surprisingly low C:N ratio when I worked it out from the analysis supplied ~85:1
 
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Fuzzy

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Bedfordshire
If you are able to do so the easiest way to compost is to cart the muck from the shed in a large muck spreader and then unload it onto the heap. Old bales of straw etc can be added to the spreader to get the right 'blend'.
 

damaged

Member
Location
Gloucestershire
My experience with horse manure 'on shavings' is bad. I'm not composting it but nevertheless it's always too wet heavy and of no visible benefit to crop.
This is not the case 'on straw' but very few are still bedded this way.
perhaps adding straw to anything may be key.or your paper pulp but too dense to allow air in mix?
 

rob1

Member
Location
wiltshire
My experience with horse manure 'on shavings' is bad. I'm not composting it but nevertheless it's always too wet heavy and of no visible benefit to crop.
This is not the case 'on straw' but very few are still bedded this way.
perhaps adding straw to anything may be key.or your paper pulp but too dense to allow air in mix?
dont find shavings too bad but do mix the heaps up a few times, paper is the worse stuff IMO doesnt seem to want to rot at all wonder if there is some chem that kills or slows the bugs
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
This is how I started but it does take a long time turning a pile one bucket at a time. The old compost turner I bought revolutionised the job. You may have a dry area to work, but I find I can only make compost in the summer because the ground around soon gets churned up. I think @martian is having a go with a 360 which should operate without making too much mess.

Yes we turned ours with a 360, steady old job, but a lot less compaction than a forklift and a better job. Been keeping an eye out for a second hand compost turner, but there seem to be more hen's teeth on the market.
 

Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

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Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

Written by Defra Press Office

image-of-a-field-620x413.jpg


There has been coverage today in the I and the Guardian, reporting on speculation around the upcoming government response to the recent Gene Editing consultation, which closed on 17th March.

A full government response, which will include a thorough analysis and summary of the responses to the consultation and which will set out our next steps, will be published in due course.

Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, such as breeding...
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