Alphabetic Glossary of Composting Terminology

AEROBIC — Means containing air, including oxygen and in the case of the ACT Forced Air composting solutions, the aerobic environment is enhanced with a robust and industrial duty delivery system of air flow to “turbo-charge” the natural process of decomposition.

ANAEROBIC — Without air and lacking oxygen, often associated with static pile, low performance composting.

BACTERIA — These are the microorganisms “engines” that break down organic materials in all composting, and it is the bacteria that creates the heat associated with an efficiently running compost system.

BACTERIA (MESOPHILIC) — Bacteria that break down organic matter under warm conditions of 40 degrees up to 110 degrees.

BACTERIA (THERMOPHILIC) —Bacteria that break down organic matter under advanced temperatures of 104 degrees up to 170 degrees.  This is the bacterial that “turbo-charges” the decay process, and significantly shortens the time to full decomposition.   A key component to the ACT systems is the ability to create an environment where the compost pile temperatures are kept at the prime temperature environment for the most effective decomposition to occur.

BIN (COMPOST) —  For high performance composting,  a bin is defined as both a container or containment area is created for the composting process to occur, to house the volume of feedstock,  to properly control seepage, contamination, and healthy work area, as well as a management unit for process control.  The management unit aspect is very important, as ACT has multiple designs for bin configurations that all accommodate the Forced Air and Closed Loop systems for high performance operation, as well as “kit” options that allow for customers to outfit the ACT Forced Air Composting into a defined bin configuration to allow for effective management of the waste and composting process itself.  Bins are either insulated metal containers, or custom constructed onto concrete slabs designed for proper drainage and industrial access by normal farm and industrial machinery.  Bins may be integrated together for scale to accommodate variable volumes of waste management need.  (Set up link to Bin Configurations Photo Gallery)

BIODEGRADABLE — Organic matter that can be broken down by decay via microorganisms.

BIOSECURITY–  In an agricultural context, biosecurity (or biohazard) refers to concerns of disease introductions or breaches into high capacity farm environments.  Spreading disease from one farm to another is a major concern of both individual farmers, and closely monitored by regulations  of waste management practices, and transportation vehicles around agricultural areas.  Breaches of biosecurity could prove disastrous for individual farm operations.

BULKING AGENT —  Component material added to a compost system to enable airflow by reducing compaction.

CARBON-TO-NITROGEN RATIO (C:N) — Part of the success in an ACT installation is the “recipe” for setting up a favorable C:N ratio to allow for maximum action by the natural biological activity.   By setting up this “perfect” environment for the natural bacteria,  they can decompose your compost pile most efficiently and in the shortest time.

CLOSED-LOOP SYSTEM—Description of a leachate control system designed into the ACT site and bin configuration to trap, control, and stores any liquids coming out of the compost process.  These systems are designed to meet Government, Environmental, and local regulation requirements for safe and environmentally sound operation of the waste management site.

CLEAN COMPOST– Completely decayed organic matter.  It is dark, odorless, and rich in soil benefits.  Compost which has gone through a temperature based pathogen kill cycle so that disease producing organisms in the finished compost are below the level of a health risk.

COST-SHARE—Is a program operated by Dept of Agriculture NRCS that provides monetary allowances to farmers for certain agricultural practices and farm infrastructural enhancements to reduce out-of-pocket costs to farmers.  ACT works closely with NRCS to insure that our composting system meets performance requirements and documentation for participation in any available funding programs for waste management systems.

FEEDSTOCK —  Any combination of biologically decomposable organic material that can become the “input” product waste needing to be processed via the composting process.   ACT systems support applications for feedstock including: animal mortalities (swine, poultry, zoo animals, road-kill, etc.) food waste, manure, fish, and other organic waste.

FIRST STAGE COMPOST — Organic matter that has gone through the initial stage of composting and has achieved pathogen kill, but is only partially decomposed and needs additional processing.

INORGANIC — Substances that should NOT go into any composting system as they are composed of matter that will not be effectively decayed by the biological process.

KIT INSTALLATION—ACT offers our same industrial duty Forced Air composting system in a shippable unit that allows customers to build out their own site with the ACT technology and products at a reduced cost since the customer provides the physical bin infrastructure.  Kits include everything necessary to operate a robust and effective industrial composting site.  (Link to Kit info page)

LANDFILL — Location that accepts industrial or consumer waste, for a fee.  There may be significant local restrictions, particularly for farm produced waste or animals into landfill environments.   Tipping fees, or charges by weight for industrial waste are common for large waste creators.

LEACHATE — This is the liquid runoff from decay in the compost pile, which could become toxic and contaminate streams or groundwater unless the composting site is properly constructed to contain the run-off.  The ACT Closed-Loop Leachate Control systems, a combination of bin design and leachate capture and aeration are key elements to the Environmental control designed into each system.

METHANE GAS —Gas that is formed when organic materials decompose in anaerobic conditions which exists in landfills.  This is part of what makes the foul odor at landfills.  Methane is not significant at ACT composting sites due to the Forced Air process that creates an aerobic compost environment.

MICROBE — Microscopic plants and animals that exist in all soil for the purpose of breaking down organic matter.  They include bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, yeast, germs.

MULCH — Typically some combination of partially decomposed ground up bark, wood chips, straw, peanut shells, pine needles, and etc.  Often used for landscaping and erosion control, but does not have the soil and plant nutriment value and composition of rich, clean, compost.

MORTALITIES–  In our agricultural context, this refers to animal, fish, fowl, poultry, zoo animals, roadkill, etc. that die, and the remains must be satisfactorily disposed of in a responsible and environmentally sound manner.  In a large commercial farming operation, it is normal and predictable to have several mortalities every day of operations.  Sometimes mortalities can “spike” due to disease, weather, etc. on an unpredictable basis.

NRCS–  National Resource Conservation Service, a division of the Department of Agriculture.  Works with farmers across many specialties for services for farm improvements.  Significantly involved with “Cost Share” programs that provide subsidy for industrial tools for agricultural improvements.   ACT works closely with NRCS to insure that our composting system meet performance requirements and documentation for participation in any available funding programs for waste management systems.

ORGANIC — Coming from, or derived from once live plant or animal matter.

RENDERING SERVICES— Commercial businesses that operate for fee,  routes or drop-off locations for the disposal of animal carcasses.  Some of these services offer farm or location pick-up, but along with these services comes a greater chance of a biosecurity breach, and introduction of disease from another site.

ROADKILL —  Animal carcass mortalities as result of impact with vehicles on roadways.  This could be either domestic animal or wildlife killed on roadways, and typically relegated to waste management processing by State Department of Transportation (DOT) local branches.

STATIC PILE — The most basic and least efficient type of composting whereby a compost pile that is not turned (static) is created in either a fixed bin or open air windrow or heap.   These are systems commonly replaced or enhanced by ACT industrial duty systems.

TIPPING FEES — Money charged, usually by the pound for accepting waste material  for further processing.   Often charged by landfills and by rendering contractors.

WASTE MANAGEMENT–  Is the safe, secure, and economically sound practices associated with actions to dispose of industrial waste of all varieties.  This could include many, many variable disposal options, but for work with composting solutions, the waste must also be classified as “organic” in order to be processed in a composting environment.

WINDROW SYSTEM — Typically a long row of compost piles organized together as a group for ease of management.  Generally associated with outdoor, uncovered sites.   Low performance, low cost solutions with likely concerns for leachate control problems.