An ericaceous compost made from recycled green waste is finally commercially available for gardeners.
The compost from Vital Earth is said to be the first of its kind on the market.
It includes humite, a mineral which helps to lower and stabilise pH at around 6 - in addition to the companies popular organic, slow release fertiliser.
The main ingredient of the composts is the composted green material (composted botanical residues, from licensed municipal council green waste collections).
How green waste is converted into high quality organic compost using a digester
After selecting and mixing the raw material to the appropriate carbon, nitrogen and moisture ratios, Vital Earth loads the mix into 40 cubic metre stainless steel digesters for a seven-day composting cycle.
Air flow in the digesters – the critical element in successful composting - is directed by co-ordinated inlet and exhaust fans which are regulated by an automated control system designed specifically for the composting process.
The system receives regular temperature readings from internal probes and adjusts the speed of the fans in line with changes to the temperature of the compost. The process requires the material to reach a temperature of 65°C twice for at least two consecutive days, thereby ensuring full sanitisation of the compost.
All data from the digesters is logged on computer and downloaded each night, so providing total traceability throughout the process. By way of a natural method of filtration widely used in the composting industry, the exhaust air from the digesters is extracted through a wood-chip biofilter where any odours are filtered out.
Following initial composting, the material in the digesters is emptied into large maturation buildings where the compost matures in batched and fan-aerated rows for a further seven weeks.
The process, once again, is monitored and controlled by remote probes linked directly to the computer. Maturation inside rather than in the fresh air eliminates contamination from air-blown weed seeds, other contaminants and animals. It also allows Vital Earth to control moisture levels during the wettest winters and driest summers, so ensuring throughout the year a consistent product for our final blending and bagging process, yielding consistently high quality compost.