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Creating a Compost Inoculant with Specialized Bacterial Cultures

by Sam

I run an industrial composting facility in Ireland and we are very interested in producing a higher value product from our composting system. Unfortunately, we can’t see how our compost will ever make it to the mass market as a result of very small inorganic or glass particles that originate from the separately collected food waste we process.

So I have been looking at different possibilities, including using the very conditioned strains of bacteria we have essentially bred over the past few years and concentrating these into a bacterial broth which could be sold as a compost starter/activator.

I know that you propose soil as being an ideal substitute, but I’m researching how this product would improve a domestic composter. I’m wondering if you feel there is a place in the market for a real bacterial blend originating from a composting plant or is it pie in the sky?

Thank you for reading,

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Feb 27, 2012
Trends and Opinions
by: Dave

Hi Sam,

Thanks so much for your question. Let’s see if myself and the rest of the our Compost Junkie Tribe can help you out.

A couple questions to start – to whom do you currently sell your finished compost product? Is there really no means of separating out the glass and inorganic particles prior to the composting process? I assume you guys have tried many different options.

I want to begin with a few words about the trends that I foresee in the composting/gardening/farming marketplace.

Currently, the interest in compost and soil inoculants appears to be growing. However, this trend seems to be moving straight towards another developing trend; and that is one of minimalism and “getting back to the land.” There is also a third trend that I suspect will become more prevalent in the coming years and that deals with subtle earth energies such as paramagnetism*.

back to the land

All in all, these current and emerging trends do not look favorable for the production of just any ol’ microbial inoculant. However, if you can do something to completely separate your product from the rest of the products on the market, you may just be on to something.

Next, I think it is important to ask the following question – “Are these products beneficial and desirable?”

In terms of benefits, the answer is yes; there are several microbial inoculant products on the market that are very beneficial. For instance, the Effective Microorganisms products are incredibly useful. However, this does not mean every microbial inoculant on the market is going to produce miraculous benefits. I’d guess that the majority of these products are not worth the money.

As for desirability of such products, I can only offer up my personal opinion. Except for a few select inoculant products on the market, I am not a huge advocate of them. The more I learn about soils and microorganisms, the more I think that a lot of these products can be produced at home (i.e. with the use of compost teas and various fermented cultures).

I’d like to hear everyone’s comments on this subject. Do you agree or disagree with me? Let’s help Sam make a decision…

*A note about Paramagnetism – I am just beginning to learn about this fascinating field. If you know anything about the topic, please contact me.

Feb 28, 2012
by: Sam

We would be selling to agricultural market but we would be looking to sell the inoculant to the domestic market via online sales only. This is a big departure from the compost but we believe its a step in the right direction. We have removed most of the inorganic contamination by screening to minus 8 mm but we still are not comfortable selling the product in bags to a mass market.

Feb 28, 2012
by: Harry

I would suggest that they try a smaller screen size for their compost. I found I had to go to a 1/4 inch size screen to be able to get a better product. I am trying to use it as a top dressing over lawns. we had too many complants from customers because of foreign materials in the compost. With a 1/4 inch screen it takes a long time to screen, but we have a really nice product now

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