Compost Temperature Monitoring
What is Composting?
Composting is nature’s way of breaking down organic waste and then turning it into a valuable organic fertiliser. The process is carried out under controlled aerobic conditions. The effectiveness of the composting process is dependent on the environment conditions that are present within the composting system. Compost temperature monitoring is a key factor within the process.
Why Compost Temperature Monitoring is so key
The reasons behind compost temperature monitoring are two-fold:
- Heat is the by-product of microbial breakdowns and to gauge of how well the system is working can be understood by measuring temperatures between 40-50°C in just a couple of days.
- As temperatures can reach highs exceeding 60°C in some cases the chances of these compost piles becoming a fire hazard are also likely.
What Temperature Monitoring equipment do I need?
An extra-long temperature probe measuring between -25°C to +60°C is required in order to reach deep into the compost piles.
Temperature data can be gathered in two ways depending on your requirements:
- Compost Thermometers and data loggers are available, but require manual checks. This is ideal for users that only have small numbers to monitor, however be aware that thermometers and data loggers only provide a retrospective view of data.
- Compost temperature probes used with radio technology can provide a real-time view of what is happening and provide alerts when temperatures exceed pre-determined safety boundaries, but are often more expensive than data loggers and thermometers.
How hot does the pile get?
The compost pile can reach up to 49-77°C (120-170°F) in just a few days. You can use these high temperatures to heat your water, home or greenhouse.
How long is it hot for?
A good, hot pile will normally stay at the top temperature for two to four days. When the temperature drops back down to about 100°, turn the pile and watch the temperature soar.
How does mixing affect the temperature?
Mixing the pile in terms of turning the pile can affect the temperature in two ways. If the pile starts to cool down, the process starts to become slower and therefore will take longer. If you then turn the pile, it starts to heat up and gets the process going again, however it can even cool the pile down to prevent loss of nitrogen.
Adding new material to a pile can affect this too. New material can cool the pile down and will be behind the stuff that’s already cooking, however, once a pile is truly up and running, it can easily absorb new material without necessarily being slowed down. Kitchen garbage especially, which tends to be soft and fairly high in nitrogen, can be dug into the center of a hot pile where it will disappear within days.
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