Compost Operations Continue Despite Freezing Temperatures


The awesome power of microbial decomposition is all the more evident despite outside temperatures dropping below freezing. This morning, Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist turned a new compost pile containing manure, food waste, vegetable matter, leaves and other yard debris.

The pile was around 160°F just before turning while the temperature outside was 30⁰F. The images below show the steam coming off the pile, which is a function of intense microbial activity. Rick is following the National Organic Program rules and regulation for preparing compost, which states that windrow compost turning systems must maintain temperatures between 131°F and 170°F for 15 consecutive days, during which time the pile must be turned a minimum of 5 times. This rule is in place to eliminate harmful human pathogens like E. coli. This is Rick’s first turn since building the pile. Rick says, “a pile like this will hold temperatures above 130°F for a few months before curing and I average about 10-15 turns per pile.”

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