Farmer-built compost turner with hydraulic drive

2009 Annual Report for FNE08-650

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,472.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Nigel Tudor
Weatherbury Farm

Farmer-built compost turner with hydraulic drive


2009 Interim Report

Note to readers, attached is the complete annual report for FNE08-650

Project Goal:

To develop a cost-effective turner that will use the tractor’s remote hydraulics to power hydraulic motors on the turner and achieve the desired ground speed. The design of the turner will be such that a farmer can build it in their workshop.

Farm Update:

Weatherbury Farm is a family operated 102 acre beef and sheep farm. In 2007 we began direct marketing grass-fed beef and in 2008 we added grass-fed lamb. Currently we have 24 cows, 8 heifers, 22 calves, and 20 ewes. In 2008 we took on another 40 acre farm which is all cropland. In the fall of 2008 we planted 10 acres each of soft red wheat and rye which will be harvested as certified organic grain.

Technical Advisor Input:

My technical advisor , John Hewitt, works with the local conservation district and will be helping me with the nutrient management aspects of the project once I have the compost turner built and am composting.

Project Update and Accomplishments:

In the spring of 2008 I designed the compost turner and made hand drawn sketches of the parts. Also in the spring I took a CAD (computer aided drawing) course and purchased AutoCad 2009 at my own expense. Throughout the summer and fall, I changed my hand drawn part sketches into CAD blueprints which are easier to read and understand. All of the blueprints will be on my website at the completion of this project. On January 23, 2009 I received the steel to build the main frame of the compost turner and part of the drum. I am currently beginning fabrication of the compost turner.

I plan to have the compost turner finished and ready to use by spring. I will test it out throughout the summer and have a field day in late summer or early fall.

New Ideas:

By having the CAD blueprints, a farmer who wishes to build my compost turner will have the option of having the steel plate parts cut out with a CNC plasma cutter (many steel suppliers have this option if you can provide them with a CAD file of the part). This is a great option for someone who might have trouble or be intimidated at cutting parts out of plate by hand with an oxyacetylene torch.

I also changed the design of the drawbar driveshaft and the drum driveshaft so that they now have only basic machining on them and are easier to make.


John Hewitt
Techincal Advisor
2800 North Main St.
Suite 1
Washington, PA 15301
Office Phone: 7242223060