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.
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.
Local compost success stories:
Long Family Memorial Park
Solid Waste Management donated 5,000 cubic yards of Mesa Blend compost for the development of the 40 acre Long Family Memorial Park. The park is managed by Mesa County and is located at 31 E ½ Road in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Canyon View Park Expansion
In the spring of 2003 the City of Grand Junction began to expand the Canyon View Park located on the corner of 24 and G Roads near the I-70 interchange. The expansion included the development of several new soccer fields, practice facilities, and basketball courts. The expansion utilized 3,500 cubic yards of Mesa Magic compost to amend native soils. The compost was applied over the area at approximately 1 inch thick and then roto-tilled into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. This application rate ensures that a sufficient amount of organic material was introduced to the soil matrix and provide vegetation with optimum growing conditions. The City of Grand Junction seeded the area and shortly after the first signs of grass could be seen.
The area is now covered in a lush dark green grass which is used frequently for recreational activities and family picnics alike. The Canyon View Park expansion is a perfect example of properly amending soil prior to seeding or planting for successful landscaping or gardening in Western Colorado.