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How to Turn a Manure Compost Pile

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How to Turn a Manure Compost Pile

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Overview

Compost typically consists of decomposing plant matter. Common additions to compost piles are leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps (vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds) and paper products. Adding manure to a compost pile provides additional microbes that aid in the decomposition of organic material. Manure also increases the nitrogen value of compost. The microbes that live in a compost pile breakdown the available organic matter into usable soil amendment. These microorganisms require oxygen and water to thrive. Turning a compost piles is important to allow oxygen and water to be even distributed throughout.

Step 1

Construct or purchase a three bin compost system. Place the compost bins in a sunny location. The sun provides enough heat necessary to cook the compost.

Step 2

Layer the first compost bin with sawdust, leaves, kitchen scraps, paper products, and manure. Wet the pile down with a garden hose. Watering for approximately 15 minutes should provide enough initial moisture to start the composting process.

Step 3

Turn the compost pile to mix the ingredients using the pitchfork. Insert the pitchfork in to the bottom of the pile and pull out the bottom layers and place them on top of the pile. Repeat this until there is no differentiation between the layers of material. Add water for an additional 15 minutes if the pile appears dry.

Step 4

Water the pile for 15 minutes before turning. Turn the pile of manure once every 7 to 10 days using a shovel. Insert the shovel at the base of the pile and remove with a load of material to place on top of the pile. Water for 15 minutes after turning. The goal is to remove the organic material that has been heating on the interior of the pile to the outside so that the material on the outside of the pile ends up on the bottom and in the middle of the pile. It takes approximately 30 days for the organic matter to begin to break down.

Step 5

Turn the pile of composted manure with the pitchfork, after 30 days. Gently shake the pitch fork to remove large pieces of manure and other materials that have not decomposed. Finer material that has begun to decompose should fall through and off the pitch fork easily. Put the clumps of manure that have not decomposed into a 30-gallon trash can.

Step 6

Shovel partially decomposed manure into the second compost bin. Dump the contents of the 30-gallon trash can into the first compost bin and add fresh material. Add water to both piles using a garden hose. Water each pile for 15 minutes. Water and turn both piles once every 7 to 10 days.

Step 7

Turn the second pile of composted manure with a pitchfork after 30 days. Gently shake the pitch fork to remove large clumps of material that have not decomposed to a finer material. The organic material should not resemble its original form. Place clumps of material that have not decomposed into the first compost bin.

Step 8

Shovel the decomposed manure into the third compost bin, emptying the second compost bin completely. Add water to both piles using a garden hose. Water each pile for 15 minutes. Water and turn both piles once every 7 to 10 days.

Step 9

Turn the third pile of composted manure with a pitchfork after 30 days. Use a gentle shaking action to remove any remaining clumps of unfinished compost. Place the unfinished compost into the second compost bin.

Step 10

Line the 30-gallon trash can with a 30-gallon trash bag. Fill half way with finished compost from the third compost bin. Continue to fill trash bags half way with finished compost until the bin is empty.

Tips and Warnings

  • Compost can be combustible do not smoke or light a fire near by.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 compost bins
  • Sawdust
  • Leaves
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Paper products
  • Manure
  • Garden hose
  • Pitch Fork
  • 30 gallon trash can
  • Shovel
  • 30 gallon trash bags

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Managing Manure by Composting
Keywords: manure compost, turning manure compost, turn compost

About this Author

Currently residing in Myrtle Beach, SC, Tammy Curry began writing agricultural and frugal living articles in 2004. Her articles have appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Farm Chronicle and Country Family Magazine. Ms. Curry has also written SEO articles for textbroker.com. She holds an associate's degree in science from Jefferson College of Health Sciences.