About the Composter

I finally have some pictures of the O2 composter under construction. It has turned into a much bigger project than we ever envisioned but we are very excited about it.

It all started about 2 years ago, when I started attending Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (AESA) workshops. We knew then that we wanted to set the standard in integrated horse care as well as high environmental friendliness. After attending workshops on manure and nutrient management, we knew composting was the way we wanted to go. However, producing good compost is time and knowledge intensive in terms of temperature, turning and knowing when to turn.

Donna also subscribes to a free publication for horse professionals entitled “Stable Management”. That’s where we first saw the ad for O2 Compost. After viewing their website, reading further about it in Karen Haye’s “Perfect Horsekeeping” and checking references, we decided to contact Peter Moon, the engineer and inventor of O2 Compost. The compost is produced through an aerated system and varies from application to application. The price of the unit seems initially high for what you get, but then you realize that you are building a one of a kind facility with Peter’s one to one assistance and engineering. The price of the unit does not include the materials or construction of the facility to house the composter. When all is said and done our composter will have been slightly over $32 000, but we expect it to have paid for itself within five years of becoming fully operational, either in marketed compost, or what we save on bedding and arena footing.

We applied for a Canada Alberta Farm Stewardship grant to help us with 30% of the cost. Initially, Ag Canada was reluctant to approve it, as the intention of the stewardship grants does not extend to commercial initiatives. But upon having a representative from Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association (Ag Canada) he became as excited about it as we were.

The booming horse industry within the province generally sees horses boarded, or kept on small land holdings, where it is not viable to spread manure. Manure is a slow release fertilizer and cannot be spread yearly on the same piece of land. With each horse producing over 7 tons of manure annually, manure management practices are critical.

We were really lucky to get all the ground work done before freeze up. Now we need to construct and insulate the walls, as well as install the rest of the aeration system and heat tapes. The whole structure 16 x 48 feet will be covered by 2 1/4 Cover All portable buildings. The building is on hold right now in this cold snap, but we have been able to hire some neighbors to help us meet our timelines.

This system is the furthest north installation Peter has designed so some special considerations for cold and handling frozen manure had to be made. It is also the first of its kind in Alberta.

Preparing for Concrete and Electricity

The Footprint Preparing for Concrete Sideview Plenum Box Trenching

After the pour

Concrete Done

You can clearly see where the aerated bays will be be covered by pressure treated plenum boxes

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