What is Compost?

Organic Materials Composting Facility

What is Compost?

Compost is a soil amendment that is a mixture of decomposed organic materials. Compost improves soil structure, texture, and aeration, while increasing the ability of a soil to retain water. Compost loosens clay soils, aids in erosion control, promotes soil fertility and stimulates root development.

Facility Overview

Across the nation, composting is gaining increased attention as an environmentally sound way to manage green wastes. Green wastes are materials such as leaves, grass clippings, and tree prunings. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, this waste accounts for nearly a fifth (over 31 million tons) of all solid waste generated in the U.S. each year, making it the second largest component (by weight) of the municipal solid waste stream. Many communities have banned green wastes from landfills all together. The composting facility opened in Mesa County in September of 2001. Goals of the facility includes; improvement of Mesa County's air quality, providing a valuable soil amendment, and extending landfill life. Composting is nature's way of recycling nutrients from dead organic material into the basic building blocks of new plant growth. At the composting facility, Mesa County utilizes specialized heavy equipment and a granular Nitrogen source called Urea to speed up the natural process and produce uniform, high quality products.

How does it work?

To produce rapid composting with high quality results, Mesa County creates an environment favorable to the naturally occurring thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter. By controlling particle size and porosity, as well as the moisture and oxygen contents of composting materials within scientifically prescribed parameters, the "micro-scopic bugs" do the work of mother-nature quickly and with predictable results. In a period between four and six months, green waste is converted to compost, a dark colored, nutrient rich soil amendment.

Why not burn leaves and other yard wastes?

Burning leaves and other yard wastes pollutes the air and can lead to uncontrolled fires. Yard waste smoke that lingers in the Grand Valley is an eyesore and can make breathing difficult for people who suffer from asthma, emphysema, or seasonal allergies. The composting facility utilizes an aerated windrow method of composting, which is the most common method of composting in Colorado. This involves stacking the yard waste into rows that are periodically turned, blended, and aerated. The windrow composting method is relatively simple and requires a minimum amount of equipment and energy input. Ambient temperature does not affect composting in Colorado, and if the traction for the turning equipment is not deterred by rain, sustaining drizzle, or snow, composting can continue year round.