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:

It requires

  • Monitoring
  • Watering
  • Turning
  • Spreading
  • 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

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