2009 - Volume #33, Issue #1, Page #34[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Covers Protect Good Compost
"I primarily use this cover to protect finished compost," says Steven Wisbaum, U.S. distributor for the Canadian-made product.
Wisbaum also provides custom composting services to farms and businesses in northern and central Vermont, and makes and sells premium manure-based compost and topsoil products. About a decade ago, while managing an on-farm compost demonstration project, he realized that it was going to be difficult to compost the wet dairy manure without dealing with the excess moisture problem. The aerobic process of composting turns to an undesirable anaerobic process when there is too much moisture.
"We needed a way to make sure no additional water was added, and I was told about these covers that had just been introduced in North America," Wisbaum explains. "Once I saw how cost effective they were, I realized very quickly it was something more composters needed to know about."
Compostex feels and looks similar to felt. Once the cover is saturated with water, excess water wicks from fiber to fiber through capillary action to the bottom edge of the cover.
Wisbaum emphasizes the simple technology relies on gravity, which means it has to be used on a surface with a curved top - the natural shape of most compost piles.
When customers call, he asks questions about their compost operation to make sure that they really need covers. They're usually not cost effective in dry areas or for farmers who use the finished compost in the fall.
"Most people I sell covers to are selling the finished product, or are serious about making high quality compost for their own use," Wisbaum says. "Finished compost is more susceptible to becoming saturated because it's cooler." Too much water makes the compost wet and heavy, clumpy and foul smelling.
Compostex covers sell for $2.10 per square yard and typically remain usable 4 to 10 years or more. Wisbaum has used his own covers for a decade for 6 to 8 months at a time. When not needed, the covers are rolled up and stored.
Compostex is about the thickness of a nickel and provides enough insulation to increase the internal pile temperature about 10 to 15 degrees. Compostex comes in 12, 15 and 18-ft. widths. Because it's breathable, it stays down and doesn't blow around in the wind like plastic tarps.
"I like to use truck tire sidewalls on the four corners and 15 to 30 ft. apart along the lengths," Wisbaum says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steven Wisbaum, Compostex Compost Covers, Charlotte, Vt. 05445 (ph 802-425-5556; steven@cvcomp
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