Using compost turner technology to utilise farm yard manure.
Dorset organic dairy farmer, Tom Gregory wanted to investigate the potential for utilising farm yard manure to create bio-complete compost in his farming system. He needed to learn more about how to create healthy soils containing worms, fungi and microbes, and how to practically apply this knowledge to increasing production of nutrient dense food on his farm.
Efficiently functioning soils store carbon and water which helps in extreme climate events such as drought or heavy rainfall. They help limit sediment run off into rivers and streams and reduce the need for farmers to rely on expensive artificial fertilisers, hence supporting nature-friendly farming businesses.
Tom, a tenant farmer, approached the FiPL team for support in developing his own soil knowledge and skillset, purchase a compost turner to run trials using farm yard manure and other materials, and to run workshops to share his experience.
- Farming in Protected Landscapes Grants awarded: £41,520
- Other sources of funding: applicants own funds
The objective of this project was to invest in a scheme to improve and share local experience of using compost turners at scale on a dairy farm. This would contribute towards the Climate theme by improving water storage capacity in soils and storing carbon. And towards the Place theme by supporting resilient farm businesses.
Tom attended the Elaine Ingham soil food web course Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web School – Regenerating Soil – Regenerative Agriculture Courses, invested in a compost turner and set up trials with the support of Niels Corfield Home – Regenerative agriculture consultancy for farmers and landowners (nielscorfield.com). Tom is also delivering a programme of talks and workshops to share his experience and knowledge both locally and nationally.
Tom is now routinely using the equipment to make compost, and in addition to planned outcomes, ten local farmers are now using this single piece of equipment to investigate the creation of compost from farm yard manure on their own holdings. Additional workshops are planned for 2024 when results of a year’s trials are available to share.
The axle on this particular Austrian model of compost turner was not particularly robust and the applicant had to strengthen this. Another funded FiPL project DOR23-023 has involved the purchase of a different Swiss model, so comparisons between models are available for other farmers to consider before purchase. To enable mutual use of machinery such as the compost turner, it is suggested that supporting a contractor to purchase equipment may be a simpler operational model than a machinery sharing ring.