Frequently Asked Questions about Aerated Bin Composting

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  • How many horses can, say, two aerated bins support?

    An aerated two bin shed can support up to 2-4 horses.

    According to Oklahoma State University, one horse generally produces 17-20 cubic yards of manure with bedding per year. This is a good & easy figure to use (you may find more complicated methods to calculate this based on the horse’s size, feeding, bedding frequency).

    Number of Horses Cubic Yards Manure with Bedding Number of Bins Needed
    1 17 – 20 1
    3 – 5 51 – 100 3
    10 – 15 170 – 300 6
    20 – 25 340 – 500 12
    40 680 – 800 18
    *Manure with bedding measure in cubic yards.

     

    The initial, higher temperature period of the compost process is complete in 30 days, and is then ready to be cured. Curing stabilizes the compost and makes it safe for use. During the curing stage, the compost does not need to be aerated and does not need to remain in the bin. The curing process takes an additional 30 days making the total compost process 60 days in length. Therefore, a three bay (8 cu. yds. per bay) aerated bin composting system, with 3-month composting periods turning over four times per year, can easily sustain 5 horses.

  • Will the compost attract flies and other pests?

    The removal of the turning process in the aerated bin system minimizes odor and pests. To further reduce odors and pests a thin layer of bedding or a tarp can be placed over the material.

  • How long does the electric blower run?

    The blower is cycled on and off 24 hours a day via a simple timer. The blower generally cycles 2-4 times an hour and will run for a few minutes at a time. The frequency and length of aeration is adjusted to the temperature of the pile.

  • Are there any management tips I should be aware of?

    1) It is important to monitor the moisture levels of the compost pile. A squeeze test can be performed to determine if the pile has the proper moisture level. If water comes out when a handful is squeezed, then the pile is too wet. If it does not form a ball, then it is too dry. Straw or other dry material can be added to reduce moisture levels and water can sprinkled on as added to increase moisture.

    2) The temperature of the material should range between 110°F-150°F for optimum decomposition. The temperature should not exceed 158°F or go below 50°F.

    3) Lime does not need to be added to the compost pile. It can cause nitrogen to be released as ammonia gas. If the pH needs to be adjusted, it is best to do it after the material has finished composting. The pH should be between 6.5 to 7.5.

  • How large of an area is needed to put in a compost system?

    While bin size may vary, three 8’ bays will end up with a site about 26’ by 30-32’ to allow for a loading pad, roof drip line, etc.

  • What would be the expected cost of constructing aerated bin composting system?

    The materials cost ranges from $6,500-$8,000, not including the cost site preparation, building permit, electric and optional water service, and labor. Concrete is very costly. Costs will vary widely by how much of the design and construction you do yourself.

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