Pros & Cons of Open Air Composting
Open Air Composting requires all of the composting elements listed in the 8 Composting Methods; especially a combination of carbon and nitrogen, air, water and vegetable scraps (optional).
The open-air system can be a bay combination or a bin upturned on the ground with aeration holes in the side.
The pros and cons of open-air composting are intermingled because what might be a pro to one person is a con to someone else.
This method brings with it a variety of common challenges:
- Worms are naturally attracted to this method but will leave if conditions are not perfect.
- Temperature is paramount to success as is pH. If it doesn’t reach the required temperature it will not decompose or alternatively, may turn into a big slushy mess
- The nitrogen to carbon ratio is very important in this system
- It is preferable to have 2 to 3 bays in order to rotate the compost piles and allow time for the composting process to work. Use the oldest material first
- Three bays also helps speed up the composting
- An upturned bin must be filled from the top and emptied from the bottom
- You can only put worm friendly food in both these systems so as not to attract rats
- If you don’t have the right mix it can smell. Fine in the country but not suburbia
- It attracts annoying little vinegar flies often seen buzzing around the compost heap. Again fine in the country but something you or your neighbours may not like.
- Snakes and rats can nest and breed in the warm conditions
- Both these systems (Bay and Gedye) take a long time to decompose
- Turning to aerate is an essential part of this process
- Moving a Gedye can be hard work if they are too full.
- Turning the bays can be hard work.
- You may need to cover them when it rains so they don’t get too wet.
- You must spread the contents to see benefits in other parts of the garden
- Large amounts of green waste are required to obtain only a small amount of usable compost
- Ideal if you are a farmer and have lots of green waste to mulch with farm animal excrement
- Great if you have the time to monitor, turn etc
- Good for destroying seeds – but will only work if it reaches the required temperature
- Have been known to catch alight if they get too hot and dry – extreme conditions
- Can be left to sit for months at a time and eventually will turn to compost
- Some bins have aeration holes that attract flies
- Can smell if filled with the wrong materials and not turned
- Open air piles are great for the chooks to forage and catch food.
- Requires spreading around your garden
- Two to three piles are generally needed for this method to work effectively; therefore
- it takes up a lot of space in the garden
- is visible; &
- requires work