MemberNovember 16, 2020 at 3:31 pm015558
@john.kempf When I tried to do the bioreactor, it ended up being anaerobic on the bottom and too dry on top. The consistency wasn’t there in the chamber from top to bottom, even though I followed directions precisely (using my own local materials at my farm). When I attended a Savory Institute class on Holistic Grazing several years ago, we had a group discussion on the bioreactor, and surprisingly the overwhelming majority had similar problems and gave up on it like I did.
The next thing I tried was static composting the way Gerry Gillespie described in a composting class he did here in California a couple years ago. That was basically doing it on the ground in windrows and covering, but it was static like the bioreactor. The difference being he has you add a LAB Serum he calls “Spice” that is basically IMO #3 or #4, applied on top before covering with an air-tight tarp or silage cover. That ended up being more bacterial than fungal but better in quality than the bioreactor. It also struggled with moisture distribution like the bioreactor which I partly attribute to our extreme temperatures here in CA. Static piles seem to be a struggle to keep moist on top without drowning it out on the bottom when you have 5 months of 90-110 F temps.
So then the following year I decided to just do it the traditional way, uncovered, layering the materials in order and watching the temperature and moisture levels and turning and watering according to traditional methods for aerobic compost. The difference being the turning was either pitchfork for small piles (<2000 lbs material) or tractor bucket for larger piles, rather than running a compost turner through it. This was to keep the fungi in tack as much as possible.
I initially inoculated it with IMO #4 at the start, and once the high heat process (140-150F) was over and it maintained around 120F, I then used Earthfort’s Soil Provide and Soil Revive which I have found grow fungi like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
My material list, from my farm here, is roughly: 40% grass clipping, 40% horse manure, 10% leaves and small woody material, 5% chicken bedding/manure, and 5% vegetable waste. Surprisingly with such a small amount of woody material, I obtain around a 2:1 to 3:1 F:B ratio. There’s a lot of alfalfa in the horse manure and chicken bedding so that might add to it, plus the method of turning, but also I think the Earthfort products did help quite a bit vs when I only used the IMO.