Few in the modern agricultural industry will argue against the necessity of fertilizer to remain competitive, boost profits, or even produce at all. One can spend hours debating the pros and cons of organic versus inorganic, liquid or solid, and various application methods, but ultimately what matters most to the farmer struggling to stay afloat is that the product is affordable and works.
High-quality compost is an organic fertilizer on par with costly synthetic alternatives, providing the full range of micro and macro nutrients needed to produce abundant, robust crops. This is precisely the commodity in demand by farmers across the nation - compost making has the potential to be a very profitable venture, literally transforming waste to wealth.
Black Gold or Black Mold? Cultivating a Quality Compost
When it comes to commercial composting, quality is the difference between success and failure. Many large-scale operations view composting as merely a convenient waste-removal practice, generating subpar products consisting of little more than aged manure or partially decomposed organic waste. Though easy to produce, this type of low-quality compost simply doesn't compare to results seen with inorganic alternatives. This difference is reflected in its price - plain manure compost is often given away by the truckload.
Producing high-quality compost requires a more advanced composting process than shoveling the contents of your barn into a pile. Improving the monetary value of your compost means improving its value to the soil and growing plants:
Most commercial compost starts with manure. While the foundation for greater things, straight manure compost has little value as is.
Adding straw, sawdust or a similar carbon source improves straight manure compost, but this rough compost is rarely lucrative at around 20 dollars a ton. This is what most inexpensive, low-quality compost consists of, and where most composting efforts cease.
Advanced composters go a step further, developing a custom compost recipe with a healthy balance of carbon, nitrogen, humidity and porosity. Now the compost is accruing real value, a relatively rare product in a large market -- but you can do even better.
Adding beneficial inoculants, the microbes which break down organic matter into complex organic structures, or humus, will transform your compost to a living soil ecosystem rich with nutrients in a form readily absorbed by plants.
Cultivating your soil ecosystem in windrows and aerating it with a windrow turner further enhances the action of aerobic inoculants; poor air circulation will shift the balance to undesirable anaerobic organisms. A turner which also mists is ideal -- humidity is also a critical factor in the composting process. Your aerated, humid compost is now a compost ecosystem, and has gained considerable value.
With so much effort put into your compost ecosystem it should be protected with a windrow cover -- the specialized material will block microbe-killing UV rays, help stabilize temperature and humidity, and buffer against weather extremes.
To maximize value and create a truly professional product, finish off your compost with a recipe of inoculants, nutrients and other ingredients to create a custom fertilizer for niche markets, such as golf courses or greenhouses. Standardized recipe components can be purchased in sets, or those more creatively inclined may experiment and develop unique formulas.
This composting process creates a highly valued fertilizer out of something many people pay to dispose of -- a dark, rich compost ecosystem bursting with nutrients. The demand for such a product is considerable, even more so with the recent push towards sustainable, earth-friendly farming practices and as tough economic times have inspired a renewed interest in gardening.
This High Quality Compost contains a lot of actual humus particles and hence it is called Humus Compost.
King of the Hill: Success and Failure in Commercial Composting
Now that you have a quality compost product, the next step is exchanging for wealth. Easy enough if you're using it for your own purposes -- you no longer need to waste money on inferior products or expensive synthetic fertilizers.
We find utilizing the fertilizer reduction benefit is very attractive in large scale volume for large scale farmers. The ability of being able to potentially reduce the cost of fertilizer input by one half is often achieved! This is catching on in semi load quantities. The real opportunity lies in being able to assist the farmers in their operations by scouting the crops for them during the summer. Educating them on the progress they are making in their soils while ensuring maximum yields via preventative measures etc.
A lot of producers making high quality are focused on retail -- unfortunately, that's also where the fiercest competition is. Examining the more successful compost sellers highlights some shared practices:
Create a specialized, distinct product
Understand the needs of specific buyers
Communicate the fulfillment of those needs on packaging
Leverage the right compost inputs and processes to add value and expand customer base
You've created a specialized, distinct product, and you know it's what your potential buyers need -- don't be afraid to say so! Emphasize the qualities that make your compost superior, and adjust it accordingly for market niches -- some buyers care only about sustaining crops, others will be attracted to its earth-friendly properties, still others are looking to improve nutrient and moisture retention in soil.
What attracted you to high-quality compost over other types of fertilizer? Odds are good that potential customers have the same needs in mind -- your job is to let them know you have the solution.
You're welcome to visit our education corner to learn more about the composting process. We also invite your questions and comments -- leave us a message below or contact us anytime!