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Is there a benefit to adding clay to composting pile?

 
Posts: 105
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Hi I will building a fairly large pile of  cow,goat and horse manure this spring.  I will turn it at least weekly with front end loader of my tractor to keep it hot and kill weeds.  I have a large heavy duty tarp which will keep pile covered when not being turned and watered.  I also have large piles of grey clay from when I had some ponds excavated.  I'd like to see the clay piles get used up and it occurred to me that if for every 6 bucket loads of manure I added 1 of clay that after many turns and 1 year of curing the clay would  disappear and make the finished compost even more mineral rich.  Do you agree? Im only guessing at the 6:1 ratio.  Has anyone done this?  If so what ratio would you recommend?

Next year once compost is finished I will fill trenches with it and plant asparagus.  I think asparagus is a good profitable perennial crop.
 
gardener
Posts: 6263
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Clay will coat all the particles of manure which isn't a bad thing but I'd mix it with manure prior to making the compost heap or windrow (it sounds like windrow would be a better fit for the quantity of manure, it will also be easier to turn than a giant mound).
As for the clay making the finished compost mineral rich, what will be there is only the minerals the clay had in it at the start, so if the clay is bentonite, which it sounds like, then you are not going to get a huge amount of minerals, mostly potassium (K), sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), and aluminium (Al).
Depending on which form of bentonite (Al2O34SiO2H2O)  clay you have, these minerals; Aluminum oxide, Silicon dioxide and Water will be the main elements with trace amounds of sodium calcium and potassium possible.  

Redhawk
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 105
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Thanks Redhawk.

Turns out I am in  a Leda/quick clay zone.  I had forgotten that. Its very unstable.  A few years ago a family died watching a hockey game (can there be a more Canadian way to go?) when their house fell on top of them.  

Unless I am mistaken Leda does nt contain aluminum (Ive never heard of Aluminum as a trace mineral) but Magnesium, then Potassium and Calcium.  Which plants like, so as long as my house does nt fall on my head the next time Canada plays US for the gold in the olympics I should be fine.  (http://www.geologyontario.mndmf.gov.on.ca/mndmfiles/pub/data/imaging/S029/S029.pdf page 56 )
 
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I was having a lot of problems growing a species of wild tomato. I tried all sorts of different types of soils, composts, mixes, etc. Trying to find something in which it would grow well. The media that worked best was from a compost pile that had a lot of clay/silt incorporated into it. I set that entire pile of compost aside for the specific purpose of growing that particular species.



 
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