Composting is not the most exciting topic in the world, but for gardeners the rich output provided by a compost is one of the most valued commodities – ensuring bountiful crops that are less disease prone and better tasting. We felt adding smart grid technology to a composter was a natural extension.
The following article is intended as an overview of what can be done with this new composting technology. Every device is available today, unlike some ideas that are only on the drawing board. This composting solution is a quality system, very simple to use, involves the community as a whole and opens the doors for cool applications showing reduction in carbon footprint and more.
Problems with Composting
- it stinks if you do it wrong
- it’s labour intensive and requires routine in a society that is just too busy
- it attracts rodents
- it’s confusing – how do I know what to add, when?
- people lose interest in maintaining the composter and volunteer turnover is high.
Benefits of Composting
- it locally reduces transport emissions, landfills and garbage fees
- it dramatically improves soil and is natural pesticide
- it can provide financial benefit to the community at large
- composting with community gardens looks and feels great and helps keep the gardens rich in nutrients.
- Local businesses can save money if the right system was provided.
Opportunities for Composting
- Many cities have numerous community gardens that could benefit from a consistent and proven method of composting that automatically reports conditions to those managing the composter or to the community as a whole.
- Connecting them with a system that automatically sends alerts by email or text to those who can fix the mix would make life easier.
- Reporting the current status of each community composter on a common web page would provide a support network city wide.
- Including local grocery chains, brewery companies or any company that produces organic waste would help offset costs and open up even more opportunities.
- Providing access to real time data feeds to be displayed on the web would provide tangible proof to other organizations trying to set up composting programs in their community.
- Taxes could be reduced because special groups / companies formed to take away the garden trimmings etc would not be needed. Collection fees could be used to purchase the unit which would be paid for at a rate based on the number of people in the area and current taxes. Once paid the fees should be reduced for there is very little maintenance and the main unit is built to last over 50 years.
- Local landscaping and chipping companies could benefit from local work and reduced dumping costs.
- Locations could be within blocks of residents instead of miles allowing for even greener dumping practices .. like walking to the composter.
- Safe, all weather processing using only solar power ensures low ongoing costs.
- Special mixture feeder for those wishing a fully automated process.
- Smart grid control of water, cameras to view the gardens are easily added.
- Open system allows community programmers and web designers the opportunity to customize their own look and feel.
Our Smart Grid Solution
Through international collaboration spanning Australia, Canada and the US our smart grid composting solution that was designed for industrial size processing of over 50 tons of waste a day and has been scaled down to meet the needs of community gardens, grocery chains, small businesses and a wide assortment of groups that would benefit from a system that can compost in all weather conditions in very short time frames and is easy to use.
- Our proven system produces results in 5 to 9 days and is simple to use.
- Composters provide real time data that can be presented on web sites using low cost, low power, green power systems.
- Local Businesses could generate their own compost to give to gardens and save on disposal costs
How Does This Work?
We believe in the principal .. keep it simple, flexible and scalable. With the following solution we have even made it cost effective, even providing groups with the ability to collect donations over the web or integrating with other community support programs.
Step 1 – Analysis
Since the composter can come in a range of sizes we first determine the size of composter needed. Since the unit is easily moved a unit can be moved if the unit becomes too big or small for the area. Additional add on devices are available so that loading and dumping is almost automatic. The highest safety features have been added such as low voltage and minimal movement.
Step 2 – Load Unit
Using our automated loader or manually the composter is loaded.
Step 3 – Unload Unit
Wait 5 to 7 days and dump the compost onto a pile for rapid integration into the final product by worms. No smell, no turning and large amounts of fantastic compost produced continually.
How it could work in a city like Vancouver
The image to the right is an example of smart grid coverage in Vancouver. Included are:
- Fort Langley
- New Westminster
- North Vancouver
- Pitt Meadows
- Port Moody
- Pt Coquitlam
- Richmond Surrey
- West Vancouver
As well as Composter Readings, Security Alerts, Compost Alerts, Garden Sensors/Cameras and
- Report carbon offset by location.
- Community blogs can use real time data from across city to help each other.
- Smart Phone application ready.
- Private groups can benefit or participate.
- Cameras / Sensors can be used for education as well as security.
Solar power can be used to charge devices.
These systems are not only cost effective but designed with flexibility and growth in mind. Reports developed by one area can easily be shared with all sites and the built-in smart grid system provides continual opportunity for additional services such as providing drip water control for the gardens, reporting of available compost via cell phone and much more. In future articles we will discuss add-ons that may surprise you in their simplicity and practicality but they are real and available now. For those willing to donate units to countries where growing your own food is dangerous to eat unless you cook it first – please contact us. Some countries have programs in place to try and have gardens in the streets to try and deal with the pollution and provide some benefit and beauty.