Data Collection & Record Keeping for each Bin:
In order to monitor the composting process, it is necessary to measure and record temperatures of the compost pile. Pathogen kill can be monitored by measuring the internal pile temperature. Progress of the pile can also be surveyed from temperature records. Temperatures should be taken at several places in the bin that represent the entire pile; usually one along the back of the bin, one in the middle of the bin, and one at the front of the bin. Temperature recording can be done easily with a three ft. probe thermometer (1/4 inch probe diameter is recommended).
Data recorded while loading the bin should include date and the total estimated weight added each day. Once the bin is completely filled, record the internal temperature of the pile at three locations; near the back, near the middle, and near the front, and calculate the average for that bin on that day.
In order to properly manage the composting facility and to meet the permitting requirements stated earlier, daily (minimum of three times a week) temperature records must be kept for each bin in both first stage and second stage processes. This is absolutely critical in the first several weeks of the compost process. Take as many readings as necessary to insure that the pile is reaching temperatures throughout. This can be extremely helpful in identifying problems that may occur during start-up of each bin. Typically, once the process is running, checking temperatures and adding moisture is about all that is required.
Land Application of Compost
First and foremost, follow an approved nutrient management plan. Test compost material for carbon, nitrogen, moisture, and pH if compost fails to reach the proper temperature or if odor problems develop. The finished compost material should be periodically tested for constituents that could cause plant phytotoxicity as the result of application to crops. Compost made from dead animal or animal parts should be tested for indicator pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. The disposal of the compost shall adhere to all federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations. It is the responsibility of the producer to properly manage the facility on a daily basis.
Animals digging into the compost can be a problem, although it is less likely in forced aerated concrete bins with high temperatures. Measures must be taken if this occurs to maintain bio-security and a positive public perception. The easiest way to prevent this from occurring is to maintain the necessary minimum cover (4-6 inches sawdust/litter mix used to cover all feedstock).