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Is this compost finished? If not how can I get it going?

 
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I know this and similar questions have been asked before, so I hope I'm not cluttering the forum, but I'd like to get some experienced advice on my particular situation.

This is my first venture into composting. I've found a great source for some starting material. It's approximately 30% horse manure, 70% dry lumberyard softwood sawdust, and an unknown amount of urine. It's been stored in a large (50-100 cubic yard) unaerated static pile for 3-5 years. I was told that it's "already been through a heat cycle" but there was no kind of monitoring going on during this time.

This mix is obviously very brown heavy, and I don't have easy access to any greens so I've layered in 10lbs of urea per cubic yard while building my pile as per recommendation from my extension office. I also layered in some finished compost and topsoil for inoculation. I'm using an aerated static pile setup with a bounce house blower, sawdust bed, perforated pipe, and cornstalk plenum covered with a thin layer of hay. However, I'm having trouble getting this pile to heat up. It's just staying around 50°f.

I was hoping that the nitrogen from the urea would get things going, but it doesn't seem to be having any effect. I'm starting to wonder if maybe the compost was finished when I picked it up and isn't likely to breakdown any further. It's nice and brown, and has a good earthy smell, but on close inspection it just seems to be brown pieces of sawdust...

I'd love to get y'all's opinion, and any suggestions you may have.
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Unscreened sample on 1/4" graph paper for size reference
Unscreened sample on 1/4" graph paper for size reference
 
Madelyn Brantley
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I'm planning to use this as mulch not a soil amendment or fertilizer if that helps.
 
pioneer
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chicken wood heat greening the desert
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I am not a compost expert by any means, but things are looking kind of dry. Did you wet the layers as you stacked? You need the moisture content to be correct to start aerobic decomposition. Then it takes time for the organisms to multiply and begin building heat. There will be plenty of oxygen available for this without the blower. Once the temperature rises it will maintain until the organisms are struggling to find oxygen, monitoring for the drop in temperature indicates when the blower needs activated. To much nitrogen can have a sterilizing effect on the organisms.

My best off the cuff guess for a quick test would be to see if some seeds will germinate in it.
 
Madelyn Brantley
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Thanks for the reply Ben.

Yes, I did wet down the layers as they were applied, and they also got some good drenching rains while I was in the process of putting down the layers. The last one in the pictures just hadn't been watered yet.

It's been about two weeks since I started stacking the pile, I figured I should be some sort of activity by now. Also, I'm not currently running the blower. It's actually not even hooked up. I didn't want to dry the pile out. I figured it would have enough oxygen from me moving it, and planned to turn on the blower when it gets cold like you said. If it ever heats up in the first place lol.

Thanks for the tip about seed. I'll give that a shot. I also read about sealing some in a plastic bag for a few days and see if it gets any stink to it. Thoughts on that method as well?
 
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