Effectiveness of Aerated Static Pile to Windrow Composting on Small-Scale Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2014: $6,237.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Emma Jagoz
Moon Valley Farm

Annual Reports

Information Products

ASP Composting Manual (Manual/Guide)


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: manure management
  • Crop Production: municipal wastes, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: compost extracts, cultural control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, composting, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, employment opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Modern commercial composting facilities largely use aerated static piles (ASP) for increased efficiency, fast turnaround, odor reduction, and a superior product.  Small farmers, on the other hand, predominantly use windrows to make their compost-- a cheap, labor-intensive, tried-and-true method.  It’s time to merge the technology of modern facilities with the needs of the small farm.  A small-scale ASP system will be a much more efficient use of farmers’ valuable time, labor and space, while producing superior compost for their soils.

    For this study,we will create a small-scale, replicable ASP system to be adapted by farmers. We will compare the capital, labor, and time spent on windrow-produced compost - the method currently used by most farmers, including myself - with our ASP model.  We predict that the ASP model will be hugely beneficial for the small farmer,  as a labor- and space- saving method that creates a superior product.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Moon Valley Farm will build and use a replicable ASP system and compare its effectiveness with our current windrow system of producing compost.  We aim to carefully document the time, labor, and effectiveness of both the windrow system and the ASP system, and write up the results for the benefit of small-farms everywhere.

    We will take the findings of our research to the community, through on-site workshops and with a step-by-step video that will be available online.  We believe that information like this is not yet widely available on the internet, and will be useful to farmers who are looking to add an efficient composting system to their farm. Information is power, and providing well-researched, trialed content will give power to small farmers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.