Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Composting System Keeps Chemicals from Seeping into the Soil

Bedford has always prided itself on staying ahead of the curve on environmental sustainability. But change still takes time – even when the benefits satisfy all we stand for environmentally and the new actually pays for itself long before the shoe (or hoof) drops on the costs.

​Developing a manure composting system on her Bedford Corner’s horse farm, Susan Roos still awaits her first sale besides her own prototype. The technology eliminates the problem of chemical seepage into the soil. “Changing everyone’s mind has been the hardest part,” says Roos.

Typically, horse farms gather their manure weekly and store the waste in a dumpster for about a month before having a composting company haul the contents away. “The problem is dumpsters leak and allow dangerous chemical by products to escape into the soil and eventually the watershed,” says Roos.

The overflow of rain doesn’t make the problem any better either, but while chemical release may be out of sight, the monthly cost for a farm is not. “Before I implemented the system, I was paying $800 per month for a service,” says Roos of her four horse farm.

Of course, fertilizer is required to replenishing the paddock, where the horses graze. “Farmers are essentially buying back the composted manure they ship off to the service,” says Roos.

At her farm, the cost for fertilizer was about $100 a month.

The expenses left behind, three tidy bins encased in cement occupy a tiny corner of her acreage. As each bin is filled, heated air is pumped into the system to speed up the chemical breakdown – allowing nothing to escape.

Common Sense Composting completes the cycle in about a 30 days, which outperforms anything else by a month or two. 

But her efforts haven’t gone completely unnoticed. “We were one of the six winners of the Town of Bedford Conservation Board’s Green Awards,” says Roos.

Otherwise, the town is moving towards putting in regulations on the composting of manure and waste, but unfortunately democracy works on a timeframe that composting systems can relate to. “The creation of legislation on the town level is taking time,” says Roos.

​Fortunately, she has Bedford’s way of doing things on her side, and when debate eventually becomes law, change should get a whole lot easier.  

Roos says the price tag on the system is $20,000.

No comments: