How does HOTBIN compost look and feel?
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 | HOTBIN Composting
Compost - Looks can be deceptive!
What comes out of your compost bin can vary an awful lot.
With many HOTBIN composters coming up to their first autumn, there will be a lot of hot compost being harvested and used in the garden. We thought it would be good idea to let you know what to expect as ‘looks can be deceptive’!
To do this we will compare several batches of compost alongside some HOTBIN compost and suggest how they might be graded based on a common visual assessment. We will also give you an insight into compost stability and maturity tests (we’ve done them for you!), discuss what happens when you dry and sieve HOTBIN compost (don’t worry no-one is suggesting you need to do this) and finally demonstrate a property called ‘colloidal behaviour’’. Finally we will tie these properties back to humic substances and suggest that what you really need to look for in great compost is high humic substance content.
As this post is quite scientific, if you'd like the summary without all of the science, here it is:
HOTBIN compost is usually very sticky and moist, potentially quite lumpy and perhaps even looking as though it needs to be seived or composted further before it can be used. Tests show that rather than being ‘poorly’ composted in this state it's actually quite the reverse. HOTBIN compost appears to have a very high humic substance content which is great news for your soil and plants as it increases the water and nutrient retention of soil.
If you only want ‘fine’ particles of compost e.g. looking like (Fig 1) or (Fig 2), the solution is simple. You will need to dry your compost before sieving it - you will be surprised by how much fine material there is in HOTBIN Compost.
For those wanting the science behind the look and feel of compost, our analysis will include:
1. Visual inspection - Below are 6 samples of compost
HOTBIN Vs Garden Centre
HOTBIN Vs Garden Centre
The garden centre compost sample behaves more like peat – it sticks when wet, dries fast (i.e. it looses water 2-4 times faster) and then the organic material falls apart when the dry ball is pressed.
In contrast, the HOTBIN sample is still damp and pliable. It forms a very hard solid outer layer of material with a soft inner. Even after drying and re-wetting the compost sample, the same level of pliability returns.
Please note that the HOTBIN compost (and certainly the batch of HOTBIN compost above) had no soil added. As a result, the pliability of the above compost is not believed to be due to soil clay.
We believe (and we mean ‘believe’ because we have no laboratory proof) that it is possible that HOTBIN compost has more humic substances than many other composts.
HOTBIN compost – Pliable humus
Can we test for humic substances?
The answer is yes but not easily outside a fully operational soil testing lab. There is a relatively simple humus soil test – targeted at measuring the concentration of humic substances in soils.
The HOTBIN samples are off the scale – but a note of caution – the test aims to give a reliable field test for soils with 0.5-6% humic substances. It cannot be relied on for concentrations well above this.
We believe that there is a real difference between ordinary compost and compost that contains very high amounts of humic substances.
Partially decomposed material (compost) will continue to decompose once it has been added to the soil and when the carbon cycle eventually complete, the material is returned to carbon dioxide whilst a small residual amount of humus remains in the soil. Humic substances do not decompose in the soil (to any great extent) so adding a concentrated form will improve your soil faster.
HOTBIN compost – drying out
As a company we are not into making claims about our products which we can’t substantiate – to be clear – we believe we can explain the appearance and behaviour of HOTBIN compost.
We believe we can trace (but not yet prove!) this back to higher humic substance content in HOTBIN compost. One day we will have the evidence – until then we believe our logic and science has merit, you can do your own testing, contribute to the debate or ignore our findings as just marketing waffle!
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Introduction to Composting
Health & Safety
Getting Started with HOTBIN
Why Should I Choose HOTBIN?
What Can I Compost?
Quick Composting FAQs
Detailed HotBin FAQs
HOTBIN Composting Key Facts
How to HOT compost
Managing Composting Odours
Science and Technical
Pests, Flies and Vermin
Gardening with HOTBIN
12 Days of HOTBIN Composting Christmas