Concerned with leaching

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Concerned with leaching
Author: outofmire
Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 2:22 am
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Here's why I have leaching concerns. Maybe they are unfounded...you tell me what you think. We have 6 acres that is basically a hill in the shape of a rectangle with creeks and washes on either of the long sides. There really isn't any level ground on our property. Some areas slope gently, but it all slopes in one way or another towards those often water filled valleys. To make matters worse, we only have 12-18 inches of clay soil with shale bedrock below. I live in Arkansas where we get an average of 50 inches of precipitation each year. So, I'm assuming that in a heavy rain, and we get some heavy ones, that there may be a problem with leaching.

I know that in the Humanure Handbook, it was recommended to separate the bin from the earth with sheet plastic and catch the leachate in a bucket to be reapplied to the heap.

However, I really don't want to shut out the beneficial organisms in the soil. I'm trying to design something that contains the leachate in the way the plastic does, but yet retains contact with the soil. I was thinking of taking out the soil in the bin area and then laying out the plastic sheeting or perhaps a ferro-cement basin that sticks out above the ground a little. Next, I'd replace the soil and build the bin as usual. The only thing I can't figure out is how much larger the basin needs to be than the bins. Same size or somewhat larger? I want to make sure that there is enough surrounding soil for the worms to retreat to when the bin heats up and also support the other living critters that are beneficial. Also, I have to figure out a way to drain of the leachate so that the whole thing doesn't overflow. Any ideas?

Author: Anonymous
Monday, September 15, 2003 - 5:34 pm
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I think as long as you have a Roof over it,as in
the Jenkins design and its two bins so that worms
can retreat,,you could even feed the worms with
Garbage while the pile heats up so they won't
starve,just cover with straw so they have shade..
I always add soil to my compost,i think you should
too,as much as 1/3 of the pile can be dirt...you
could dig a trench around the Bins and direct any
runoff to some fruit trees,but its probably better
to just add it to the pile,,or just make a very
wide roof over it all to prevent runoff...

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