Compost solutions are out there

Re: Composting to resume at Central Saanich farm.

Re: Composting to resume at Central Saanich farm.

A well written report. Several things regarding composting in southern Vancouver Island became clearly apparent in the mid summer of 2013. The Central Saanich facility was over capacity with the composting process and compost stabilisation not being sufficiently completed and consequent persistent odour problems.

B.C. Ministry of Environment protocols to determine finished compost as well as pathogen reduction need to be followed and food waste composting requires high tipping fees and big financial investments.

Composting has been carried out for many years and the procedures for evaluating compost maturity are well known.

A simple test, described in the B.C. MOE Regulation, is that a pile of the composting materials at the facility about three metres in diameter and two metres high be formed. This should not reheat more than 20 Centigrade over ambient temperature. If it does the compost materials probably need to be further processed within a building before being brought outside, depending on weather, for curing on concrete or asphalt pads with leachate collection.

Obviously severe odour problems at compost facilities must be quickly attended to but better communication between the compost facility operator and local residents is essential. The simple re-heating test noted above can be shown with demonstrations of the uses of finished compost in gardening and agricultural crop production as well as the benefits of added compost to carbon additions and sequestration. This can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions as well as improving soil structure and thus water movement in agricultural soils. This is really outreach and best communicated by farmers and compost facility operators.

Alan Carter, Saanich