Some Sedalia residents may not realize they can get locally-created compost from the Sedalia Biosolids Compost Facility, and it has started offering a few new products.
The compost facility, 27882 state Route U, recently gained some equipment upgrades and now offers new products in addition to compost: mulch and overs. Plant Operator Dan McCarthy said the site receives all the biosolids from the entire city, which are then turned into products for the public.
“The biosolids are basically pretreated sludge, so it’s already been broken down a little bit,” McCarthy explained. “What we do is we take it and speed up Mother Nature. What we do is one day a week, we have a mix day, and we mix the biosolids with fresh wood chips, 1 to 1 ratio, and use the comp dogs.”
Comp dogs are an inflatable tool that is about 60-feet long when inflated and makes a triangular shape. The pile is built in a symmetrical shape so it sheds water, and the next day workers deflate the comp dogs, leaving a chamber in the middle.
“We draw air into the pile. We’re activating the pathogens, the bugs, the stuff you don’t like,” McCarthy continued. “They’re just like us, they need food, water and air. Their food is the carbon source in the wood, and the water comes in the biosolid because that’s about 80 percent moisture right there. Now it needs air. When it starts sucking those tubes, they each have a chamber in them and they suck the air evenly. What they do then, they go to town, start eating the wood, and as they eat, they generate energy and it’s hot. These piles are anywhere from 150 to 180 degrees, even in the winter time.”
The facility follows an EPA time- and temperature-regulated process that lasts roughly 30 days. The mix then goes into the cure process.
“It’s starting to cool down and it’s breaking down more and more; the more time you give this stuff, the better it gets,” McCarthy said. “After it’s been through the process it’s run through the screen and pulls out the big wood chips and leaves the fines, what people want for their garden.”
The product is sent to a lab in Nebraska to be checked for heavy metals and pathogens, “and because we exceed our time and temperatures here, get them hotter than we even have to, we’ve never had any bad tests come back,” McCarthy said.
The Sedalia site mixes just over 1 million pounds per month.
“We’re taking an undesirable product and turning it into a desirable product — we can’t make enough compost. We literally are turning farmers away, they want to buy 1,000 yards,” McCarthy said. “We hold back during gardening season and we try to maintain 1,000 to 1,500 yards going into gardening season because the local people are the ones paying for this facility. … The stuff is fabulous, it grows everything good.”
Compost is available for purchase and can be used for topping, tilling in or direct planting. The cost is $10 per cubic yard. McCarthy said for people who don’t garden but would like to rejuvenate their lawn, dumping small piles on their lawn then raking in “will do wonders for yards” with high clay-like soils.
After it was approved by the Sedalia City Council last fall, the facility has started creating mulch and overs to reuse as much material as possible to avoid the landfill.
McCarthy said they typically recycle about 30 percent of the compost byproduct, but now they use that as overs for the public, which he said is a good heavy mulch around flowers and includes two- to three-inch wood chips with small amounts of compost. The cost is $2 per cubic yard.
The mulch looks just like compost, but doesn’t have any biosolids in it. This product is available while supplies last due to limited quantities. Cost is $5 per cubic yard.
“We get all this (mulch) product from the (yard waste site, which will be moved next to the compost facility this summer). Someone will grind that for us once or twice a year,” McCarthy said. “These wood chips after six months will start to break down. It’s not as optimal for us as when it’s fresh. We have a certain ratio in our mix we have to have. … We started screening the wood chips, rather than get rid of them.”
The compost facility also received a new conveyor within the last few weeks, making loading customer pickup trucks much easier, as previously the bucket of the loader could accidentally scratch the vehicle.
Now that spring is here, the facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays during April. Compost must be paid for in advance at the Finance Department at the Municipal Building, 200 S. Osage Ave.
The Sedalia Biosolids Compost Facility is open for loading from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, contact McCarthy at 660-619-6609.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.