Nature's GREEN-RELEAF™ |
Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF Composting Cycle
1. Compost Feedstocks-
At Novozymes we make enzymes for the commercial marketplace. The production of enzymes is a fermentation process. This is much like making beer or wine on a large scale. Enzymes are made from food grade materials like sugar, soybean meal, corn starch and water. After we harvest the enzymes from our process we are left with a nutrient rich broth. This broth is treated and dewatered into a solid form and used as a key ingredient or feedstock, in our composting process. You could compare the composting process to baking a cake. You start with the right recipe. Then you need key ingredients and the right equipment to create a great cake. We blend our enzyme residuals with carbon sources such as sawdust, tree/shrub trimmings, leaves, wood chips and pine straw.
2. Feedstock Preparation-
Carbon material arrives at our compost site and is sorted by type. This material needs to be reduced in size to be useful in our composting process. We grind and screen this feedstock so material sizes are consistent. The larger bulkier material (2 inch plus in size) is used as a bulking agent to maintain the valuable airspace in our compost pile. The smaller particles are used as food for the aerobic microbes. This high carbon material is mixed with our nutrient rich enzyme residuals at mix ratios of 3:1. This mix recipe is based on three components. One, a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of 30:1. Two, a final mix moisture of 50% and three, enough pile porosity to maintain a minimum oxygen rating of 5% or higher.
3. Active Composting-
At Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF we use a "turned windrow" method of composting. This is the most common used in the United States today. Mixed feedstock material is placed in long rows called windrows. It is then turned using a specialized piece of equipment called a windrow turner. Turning both aerates and inverts the windrow to mix the microbial food source. High temperature microorganisms (thermophilic plus 131 Degrees Fahrenheit) are found near the core of the windrow and medium temperature microorganisms (mesophilic less 104 Degrees Fahrenheit) are found beyond this internal core. These bacterial microorganisms are the workers that break down the carbon and turn it into plant available humus. Heat and water vapor are byproducts of the composting process. This is beneficial in killing weed seeds and detrimental bacteria. We use in-process monitoring during this phase of composting to ensure process performance and environmental compliance. Temperature, moisture and oxygen tests are conducted and recorded regularly. The active composting process takes between 60 and 70 days depending on pile conditions.
4. Curing & Screening-
As our compost pile temperatures start to decline the microbes begin to breakdown their food sources and become less populated in the compost pile. This is the beginning of the curing stage phase of the composting process. As temperatures drop below 100 Degrees Fahrenheit, windrow volume has declined by 40-50% in size. The compost material looks darker in color and smells more like soil. Composite samples of our curing compost are taken and tested for maturity based on respiration rate. Compost that passes this test is then screened based on end market use. Oversized screened material is then recycled back as a bulking agent in the front end of the process.
5. Quality Assurance-
Final product quality tests are conducted to measure levels of macro and micro nutrients, carbon:nitrogen ratio, pH, soluble salts, pathogens, man-made inerts, moisture, particle size, maturity and stability. These results determine product quality and most suitable market for end-use. Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF compost is produced under the US Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance Program (USCC-STA).
Our Compost Technical Data Sheet includes directions for product use, a list of product ingredients, and analytical test results. We certify that our compost products are in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations.
6. Completing the Cycle-
Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF Compost has high organic matter content (50-75%), relative to most fertile soils. By incorporating compost into your soil, Soil Organic Matter (SOM) is increased, thus making the soil healthier. The benefits of increasing SOM by adding compost are many, and fall under four categories: biological, physical, chemical, and environmental.
You’ll get biological benefits because compost promotes the growth of beneficial micro-organisms. A teaspoon of healthy soil or compost can have millions of bacteria, miles of fungi, hundreds of thousands of protozoa, and hundreds of beneficial nematodes. These groups of living organisms create a diversity of life in a healthy soil and serve a critical function of not only metabolizing nutrients but also suppressing soil-borne pathogens.
The physical benefits of compost include improved soil aggregation or structure, lessening of compaction and surface crusting, increased infiltration and aeration, and improved water retention. Improved soil physical properties results in both improved plant growth, and soils that absorb water and hold nutrients more efficiently.
The chemical benefits are enhanced cation exchange capacity (CEC), which helps make nutrients more available to plants, which binds trace elements so that they can be released slowly and made available as needed for plant uptake.
The environmental benefits of adding compost are carbon sequestration, which helps reduce global warming, adsorption of toxic metals, adsorption and microbial degradation of toxic organic compounds such as pesticides, and decreased soil erosion. The percentage of organic content directly relates to water-holding capacity in soil. Soil scientists report that for every 1% of organic matter content, the soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant available water per acre of soil to one foot deep. That is roughly 1.5 quarts of water per cubic-foot of soil for each percent of organic matter. A typical sandy soil needs an increase in organic content of approximately 5% to bring it up to a level that would maximize water-holding capacity. This would add 7.5 quarts or 1.88 gallons of water for each cubic foot of soil. This means that a 10,000 square foot lawn would hold 18,800 gallons of water that would otherwise not be held and made available to plants. A town with 5,000 residences each with 10,000 square feet of lawn could potentially save 94 million gallons of water as a result of 5% increase organic matter content in the soil.