Temperature Monitoring of Compost

Table of Contents

What is Composting?
Why Compost Temperature Monitoring is so Key
What Temperature Monitoring Equipment Do Users Need?
How Hot Does the Pile Get?
How Long is It Hot for?
How Does Mixing Affect the Temperature?

Temperature Monitoring of Compost

What is Composting?

Composting is nature’s way of breaking down organic waste and then turning it into a valuable organic fertilizer. The process is performed under controlled aerobic conditions. The efficiency of the composting process relies on the environment conditions present within the composting system. Compost temperature monitoring is a vital factor within the process.

Why Compost Temperature Monitoring is so Key

The reasons behind compost temperature monitoring are two-fold:

  1. Heat is the by-product of microbial breakdowns and to gage how well the system is working can be understood by measuring temperatures between 40-50 °C in within just a couple of days.
  2. As temperatures are capable of reaching highs exceeding 60 °C, in some cases the chances of these compost piles becoming a fire hazard are also likely.

What Temperature Monitoring Equipment Do Users Need?

An extra-long temperature probe measuring between -25 °C to +60 °C is needed in order to reach deep into the compost piles.

Temperature data can be collected in two ways based on user requirements:

  1. Data loggers and compost thermometers are available, but need manual checks. This is perfect for users that only have small numbers to monitor, however they should be aware that data loggers and thermometers only provide a retrospective view of data.
  2. Compost temperature probes used with radio technology are capable of providing a real-time view of what is happening and also provide alerts when temperatures go beyond pre-determined safety boundaries, but are often more expensive than thermometers and data loggers.

How Hot Does the Pile Get?

The compost pile is capable of reaching up to 49-77 °C (120-170 °F) in just a few days. High temperatures can be used to heat water, greenhouses or homes.

How Long is It Hot for?

A good, hot pile will generally stay at the top temperature for two to four days. When the temperature drops back down to almost 100°, the pile can be turned and users will be able to watch the temperature soar.

How Does Mixing Affect the Temperature?

Mixing the pile in terms of turning the pile can in fact affect the temperature in two ways. If the pile begins to cool down, the process starts to become slower and will thus take longer. If the pile is turned, it begins to heat up and gets the process going again, however it can also cool the pile down in order to prevent loss of nitrogen.

Adding new material to a pile can affect this too. New material can cool down the pile and will be behind the stuff that is already cooking, however, after a pile is actually up and running, it can easily absorb new material without necessarily being slowed down. Kitchen garbage particularly, which tends to be soft and fairly high in nitrogen, can be dug into the center of a hot pile where it will disappear within days.

How Does Mixing Affect the Temperature?

Hanwell

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hanwell.

For more information on this source, please visit Hanwell.

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