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Humanure won't heat up

 
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I'm having problems with getting my humanure pile over 90 degrees.the pile is about 4'x4' and about 2' deep. We use sawdust for a cover in the buckets and straw for covering the pile. I don't add kitchen scraps to the pile because those go to the chickens. Any help on getting my pile up to that thermophilic temp would be great. Thanks .
 
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Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
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What sort of sawdust are you using? I found that my compost pile temperature went way up when I switched from pine sawdust and shavings from a timber framing place, to fine green oak sawdust from a saw mill.

Is your pile wet enough?

Have you tried turning it? I don't turn mine, but if your pile isn't getting enough oxygen, turning will show a quick increase in activity.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher
 
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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sounds like the pile may need some more nitrogen.

i recently watched the geoff lawton online pdc video regarding compost and he mentions carbon being the sponge that catches the nitrogen explosion.

he said, if you get a pile that is to hot, its because you have to much nitrogen and no enough carbon, so it sounds like your pile but in reverse.
he also mentions that most people do not make the pile big enough. he said the pile should be up to your armpit in height.


good luck.
 
Mother Tree
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I've found with my own humanure that the problem is usually the amount of water. In my case, I have to add rather a lot of water most times of year. I usually achieve this by washing out the buckets and putting the wash-water onto the pile. The standard test with compost is to squeeze some of it really hard - about one drop of water should drip out. I wouldn't try this with humanure, but it helps you to get the picture.

 
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Location: Cole Camp, MO
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I am nearing the end of my first year composting my humanure. From what it sounds like your pile is not wet enough. I do not agree with the nitrogen recommendation because your poop and pee should have plenty of nitrogen in it. If you are getting saw dust from a company that uses kiln dried lumber the moisture in the wood has been removed and you will need to really wet your pile down to get the moisture needed.

Do you separate your poo from your pee? If so, I would suggest you stop. We poo and pee into one bucket and dump the contents right into our compost pile. We use rotten hay, leaves, and straw as our pile cover material. I dont think our pile dropped below 80 degrees in the dead cold of winter. We get our sawdust from local sawyers who are making lumber out of hardwoods.
 
pollinator
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As a rule, most compost piles are too dry. Yours also sounds a little short so it isn't insulating itself to hold temp. I find a 3x3x3 pile heats better than a 4x4x2 in general.

 
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Is this your first humanure compost pile? Mine wasn't getting very warm when it was in the small stage but I also found that I was putting the compost thermometer in too deep. The one I have senses the temp at the end of the probe only so I was basically taking the temperature of the biological sponge at the bottom of the pile for a long time. I gained 15 degrees F by putting the probe only as deep as I thought the active area was. I also wondered if my pile was too dry so I have started adding rinse water from food sources into my compost pail. Used coffee rinse water accounts for most of the extra so my pile is also very very awake.
 
Chris Williams
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Thanks for the replies. I just got internet service back,had to go with out for some time. As far as the compost pile goes,it heated up to around 110 degrees in the summer.I added some water regularly,and that seemed to help. In the winter it dropped to 60 or so in the 10 degree weather. We are using pine sawdust from the local mill as covering. I'm told it's killn dryed. Our bin is made of 4 pallets nailed together. And yes we poo and pee in same bucket. We are on our second pile now its just getting big enuff to create heat. In 40 degree weather it's maintaining about 80 degrees. I'm not sure if this is normal or not. We cover the pile with straw.

The first pile has been full since about December. The edges still haven't broke down. The inside just looks like deep red sawdust, with a lump here and there.

Would you suggest turning the old pile to try starting the thermophilic prosses again?

Thanks
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Not that I have a lot of real life experience with this since I am 6 months short of your experience but from what I have read from other sources I think that a change in cover material would help raise your compost temps. Did you try varying the depth that the thermometer is inserted into the compost?
 
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Chris Williams wrote:We are using pine sawdust from the local mill as covering. I'm told it's killn dryed.



I would check that 'kiln dried' doesn't also mean 'chemically treated to resist fungal and bacterial breakdown'
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Chris what you are using is probably close to ideal for animal bedding, not ideal for cover material/composting material. Try a species change as well as undried and older if possible. I am about to experiment with chain saw sawdust left over from cutting firewood. In my area firewood is almost always mixed hardwood species, and almost never dry when cut. I have high hopes for this material but it will be a season before I know empirically.
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