Farmer-built compost turner with hydraulic drive

2010 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


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 35 acre farm which is all cropland. In the fall of 2008 we planted 10 acres each of soft red wheat and rye which we harvested as certified organic grain. In 2009 we harvested our first certified organic grains (10 acres soft red wheat, 10 acres rye, 1 acre hulless oats, and 1 acre open pollinated corn).
In 2009 we took on another 20 acres of fields (for a total of approximately 155 acres). For the 2009-2010 crop season, we added hard red wheat, spelt, spring wheat, emmer and einkorn.
The 2010-2011 crop season will have the same acreages and crops as 2009-2010. The big change for 2011 is that we recently purchased a flaker mill and a stone flour mill with a sifter. We will be grinding and flaking our grains to create a value-added product which we will be marketing direct to the public.
The straw from the grains is used for bedding for our farm animals, thus creating an on-farm source of compostable materials.

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:

By mid-summer 2010, I finished the tunnel fabrication and purchased the driveline components (the large gearbox and PTO shafts.). I currently have all of the subcomponents of the wheel assembly and hydrostatic drive made and will weld them together by month end. I also have all of the parts for the front gathering paddle ready to be welded.

Most of the components are also made for the turner drum. The shaft for the drum assembly will be fabricated after I finish the wheel assemblies. The tines will be welded on the drum after the drum is put in the machine.

I still have to make the drawbar assembly and purchase the hydraulic components. This will be done between mid-February and mid-March. I will have all of my expenses ready to submit by the end of March.

When it warms up in the spring, the turner parts will be sand blasted, painted, and then assembled. The turner will then be tested on our farm. The turner will be demonstrated as part of a PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture) field day on June 28th, 2011. Although not yet finalized, I have had several inquiries about demonstrating the turner at other field days.

Nigel Tudor
26 January 2011


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