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  • Writer's pictureBill

Give me that static ... (aerated static)

A compost pile bin made from plywood under construction, with two of four walls up.

When you work with pile after pile of hot compost year-round, finding ways to streamline the process is important.

While getting the ratios of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) right takes some practice, the "grunt work" in a traditional hot compost pile involves turning the pile regularly to keep it aerated and ensure the "right bacteria" are continuing to thrive.

Plastic pipes being assembled on a barn floor, with a man working on an air pump for the setup.

Aerobic bacteria require oxygen, and those microbes are the key to a good hot pile that breaks down and doesn't smell. Anaerobic bacteria are the guys you don't want, and you'll know if your pile is full of anaerobic bacteria by the foul smell of rotting food.

An "aerated static pile" helps maintain appropriate oxygen levels inside a compost pile without having to turn the pile. Once you have the pile built, you basically leave it alone for a month, and let the aerobic microbes do all the work, no turning required.

You need an air pump, pipes with holes drilled along the sides, and a "plenum layer" of wood chips. You can build a "box" to contain the pile as we did in the top photo, but it's not required. It does help keep your pile a nice 4' x 4' x 4' size, however.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is for traditional hot composting, where you want the pile to heat up to at least 131º F for 3 consecutive days. This is not for vermicomposting — the worms can't handle those temperature extremes.

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