Plants which are given compost grow better, are less affected by pests,
rust and other diseases and droughts, saving costs and giving a better crop
for little effort.
Compost can be clean, odourless and profitable, provided it is made
correctly - and that's easy.
Any type of bin, drum, bottomless container or three walls of wood or
concrete in a U shape can be used, so that earthworms can come and go from
underneath, and to allow drainage to prevent anaerobic smelly compost. Make
at least two bins to allow one to decompose while the other is being
Used bedding, lawn and small hedge clippings, leaves, weeds and vegetable
waste make good compost, provided they are spread evenly and no thicker
than about 150 mm (6=B2), and agricultural lime is sprinkled evenly at about
half a kilo per square metre (40=B2) over each layer of vegetation. Some roc=
phosphate powder can be used if farm P levels are low and Ca is not. If
pockets of the vegetation go green (like silage) and don't decompose, it is
a sign of being too thick and/or needing more lime. Lime raises the pH and
starts decomposition. Earthworms finish it off. They will multiply and
consume the material, mixing it and increasing its fertilising qualities.
Earthworms can=B9t thrive without lime.
If parts go mouldy, apply more water. Keep the heap well watered, but if
moisture seeps out, use less water. If seepage occurs because of excessive
rain, cover it for a while. Seepage around the manure heap has to prevented
to ensure it doesn't get into the soil where flies will breed. If it can=B9t
be controlled a concrete drainage and catchment system will have to be
After having added all the available vegetation in 150 mm layers, spread
agricultural lime and cover it with soil and/or compost from an adjacent
heap or use some decomposed material from the other heap of from under the
heap. This should have earthworms galore.
After a few months you can start removing compost from the bottom and using
it. It should be full of earthworms, although once fuly decomposed they
will move to new vegetation.
Don't add anything which will attract dogs or rats such as waste human food
unless it is well buried or dogs and rodents are controlled as they should
If these instructions are followed, flies should not breed in it and no
nuisance should be created. However, if the rules are broken flies will
swarm in and create a smelly mess. Anything which discourages earthworms
will encourage flies. For instance applying urea to our lawn produced high
nitrate clippings which earthworms would not enter. It became a soggy
smelly mess giving off ammonia which chased the earthworms right out of the
heap and attracted flies. We had to bury it.
If flies to take over you may have to have a fly trap over the heaps of
manure. A frame is made of steel or timber (lumber) and has black plastic
around the sides down to a metre above the concrete floor so flies can get
to the manure to lay their eggs. The top is also covered with black
plastic, except the top centre which has a turret covered with clear
=46lies which hatch from the manure go upwards to the light turret and are
trapped in the turret because they won't fly down again to the dark so die
of heat and/or thirst and drop back onto the compost heap.
It is very light so can be lifted off or tilted back for loading manure in
Keep plastics and similar rubbish out of the compost.
Avoid Kikuyu, Bermuda, twitch, couch and oxalis roots which can survive and
grow where you don=B9t want them.
Use a shredder to shred twigs and branches and turn them into compost too.
Don't mix the heap - applying agricultural lime and good earthworms will do
the mixing for you. Spreading layers of compost with earthworms from the
bottom or a previous heap over the new vegetation will speed up the
In New Zealand very active earthworms are available from John Stemmer,
Rangimarie Earthworm Farm, RD 3, Motueka, New Zealand. Ph +64-3-528-9614.
Stipulate worms for compost, pasture and garden.
I compared his earthworms with ones we had in Hamilton and found his to be
twice as active both in the compost and pastures. He has bred them for
(ex dairy & beef farmer & consultant)