Composting for Local Foods , Tahlequah, OK February 24, 2012

We were most honored to be a guest speaker at the Tahlequah Food Policies Conference in February. Below is one of the handouts we prepared that may aid others looking for composting information in Oklahoma – Kathy

Composting Project Considerations (Basic & Brief)

Related to Local Foods, Jobs, Public Health, & Food Sovereignty Issues

Kathy Moore, Anichini – Moore Ranch & Farm &

OK Composting Council

Cell Phone: 405/823-8295

Local Foods Conference, Tahlequah, OK, February 24, 2012

Composting Definition: Composting is a systems approach to managing organic residuals or wastes. Composting recycles organic residuals (plant residues & possibly manures) involving knowledge and skill. Composting is a biological process that manages organic residuals or waste materials that may avoid environmental problems. Composting is an alternative to land filling and creates a useful soil amendment that helps to build fertile soil and water holding capacity. Composting is a risk management tool that saves growers money by substituting compost for fertilizer, reduces water use, pests and disease and other costs.

Recipe: Composting involves a variable recipe of four ingredients: carbon, nitrogen, air, and water. The carbon to nitrogen ration is between 25 to 1 or 30 to 1 or 25 to 30 parts carbon and 1 part nitrogen; moisture is between 45% to 60% moisture.

Recycling Resources or Feed Stocks: Carbon and nitrogen can come from a variety of organic residual resources such as yard debris, pre consumer vegetative matter, egg shells, coffee grounds, woody materials, straw, paper, card board, grocery store produce, breads, livestock manure, and other organic materials.

Kathy Moore, Anichini – Moore Ranch & Farm Page 2

Local Foods Conference, Tahlequah, OK, February 24, 2012

Equipment: Scale Equipment to size of operation. Various small tools are available from compost spinners, pitch forks for turning to larger scale equipment. Compost manufacture may involve a tractor with bucket loader, windrow turner, manure spreader, temperature probes, and covers or buildings.

Management: Varies based on scale of composting endeavor. Education is imperative! Steps may include collection of organic residuals, mixing, record keeping, temperature readings, turning, equipment, time, and turning when temperatures are above 130 degrees five times in 15 days. If temperature reaches above 160 degrees compost requires turning and possibly addition of moisture. Composting may cause combustion or fires so management is vital!

Uses: Compost has many applications in a wide variety of horticultural, agricultural, gardening, nursery, conservation, yard care, golf course, and local foods production. It may reduce production costs for farmers, backyard growers; reduces pollution, erosion, storm water, and sediment; filters and increases ground water supply; increases disease and negative insect pressures while aiding pollinators or beneficial insects; and creates jobs based on recycling or using discarded resources productively verse mining resources.

Community Composting: Requires leadership or community and public interest and commitment.

Kathy Moore, Anichini – Moore Ranch & Farm Page 3

Local Foods Conference, Tahlequah, OK, February 24, 2012

Planning: Are there appropriate available sites or locations? Is there municipality support? Education, relationships and commitment are crucial!

Financial: Varies from low input costs with volunteers to extensive contingent upon business or municipal endeavor and many additional factors.

Income or Sales: May require licensing and permits plus testing, equipment to bag or load and capital. Sales of yard waste based compost products vary contingent on demand. Many compost producers use compost primarily for their own crop production to reduce fertilizer and other input costs for either wholesale or direct marketing produce or other crops.

Permits: Maybe required for large scale composting endeavors. Contact ODEQ (Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality), Fenton Rood, for more information. There maybe local zoning and storm water management issues to address. Typically, no permits are required for back yard scale composting projects.

Social: Creates community, benefits soil, water, air, plants, quality of life, can create jobs, economic benefits and contribute to public health.

Education and community support: Education and community support should be on going! Both are critical and key to successful composting endeavors!

Kathy Moore, Anichini – Moore Ranch & Farm Page 4

Local Foods Conference, Tahlequah, OK, February 24, 2012

Note: Composting requires knowledge, skill, management and education. Large scale projects may require permits, consultants, and trained managers. Composting information and regulations are evolving and constantly changing. Information is provided as guidance only. Anyone interested in making compost requires more information than contained in this brief. The internet offers multiple resources or contact the Oklahoma Composting Council for more information.

Kathy Moore, Owner
Anichini Moore Ranch & Farm
Founder: OK Composting Council

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