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I have a pretty good pile of compost cooking right now. I've been using chicken manure to heat it up and it's getting really hot. I have heard that too hot is not good. The center is reaching 150+. Is that too hot?

Thanks
 
Leah Sattler
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depends on what source you use.

"An active compost pile should develop internal temperatures of 130 to 160F. If the pile is not heating properly, additional nitrogen may be added to supply the microbes or more organic material may be added to increase pile volume and allow for more efficient composting. Or, the pile may be too wet or too dry to allow for good aerobic decomposition."
http://hflp.sdstate.edu/compost.htm

my personal thinking is that yes maybe the very middle of the compost will get hot enough to kill the microbes in the middle of the pile. but if the pile is that big then there should be plenty of reserved good microbes that reside in the areas between the heat and the outside. also if it is getting that hot there must be something still in the middle that needs to be broken down and something that is breaking it down or that heat would not be produced. now I know that commercial composting operations have careful monitering and turning of the pile to expidite the process as much as possible but I am not sure it is of much value as a home composter as it is to a big commercial operation, unless you have the equipment and facilities to easily turn it.
 
                                  
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Yes, the edges are around 110 and it rises as I go further into the center. The pile is pretty big so I use a front end loader to flip the pile, which I do every 2-3 days.

Thanks!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I've read a blanket of mulch will allow you to maintain activity longer after turning.  Like this report of a pile similar-sized to yours staying above 125 degrees for 16 days:

http://onestraw.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/compost-trick-140-for-a-week/

That would use less fuel and take less attention, and would also interrupt the process less and allow less total N to evaporate.
 
Leah Sattler
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I like the mulch idea. turning it every few days might be a bit too much.

this has a nice graph that shows the temp of the pile. it appears that for their mix it stayed at optimal temps for much longer then 2-3 days.
http://www.wastenot-organics.wisc.edu/05composting/publications/fogielcompostproduction.pdf
 
Jeremy Bunag
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Neat doc link, even lists testing facilities for Clopyralid and Picloram, as well as some common C:N ratios...  Thanks for that!
 
paul wheaton
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The last time I heard, testing for clopyralid was $125.  But that was a while ago.

As for compost getting "too hot" - I would say that 99% of the people composting never need to worry about that.  For the last 1%, the only reason they worry about it is because they are attempting to optimize some teeny tiny detail in their compost and that these people are extremely advanced composters.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:The last time I heard, testing for clopyralid was $125. 


Oh, wow.  Running a bioassay would be well worth it, then.

http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/organics/Threats/Clopyralid/Testing/Bioassays.htm
 
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