Use & Care Instructions

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Before Applying ComposTex Compost Covers

  • The site should have enough slope to prevent pooling of water around the piles.
  • Piles should be oriented parallel to the site slope to maintain proper surface water flow.

General Considerations

  • ComposTex is designed to protect both raw ingredients as well as active and finished compost from excess rainfall, thereby protecting compost quality, improving screening efficiency, and reducing the potential for leachate and odors created by saturated conditions.
  • Because ComposTex sheds rainfall and snowmelt by the water being absorbed and then wicking inside the thickness of the fabric down the gravitational gradient, ComposTex is designed to be used on piles with gently sloped sides leading to a peak, versus piles with steep sides and broad, flat tops.
  • When used on piles during wet weather and then removed during dry weather, ComposTex can also be used to help dry out compost with excess moisture, especially if the piles are turned periodically to incorporate the dry outer layer and expose the wet inner core to the drying effects of sun and wind.
  • While ComposTex can also be used to protect piles from the drying effects of sun and wind, because the fabric is permeable to water vapor, it only slightly reduces moisture loss when used for this purpose. And, because this application exposes the fabric to high levels of UV-light, its lifespan will also be significantly shortened.
  • More effective methods to reduce moisture loss are described in these two articles: "Moisture Management - The Key to Successful Composting" and "Low Input Composting".
  • If the moisture saving methods described in these two articles are still insufficient, operators can first try covering piles with agricultural shade cloth (with an 85% to 95% “shade” rating) to minimize exposure to the drying effects of sun and wind. And if using shade cloth alone also proves insufficient to reduce moisture loss, ComposTex can be used under the shade cloth, with the shade cloth helping to protect ComposTex from the damaging effects of UV-light.
  • Because moisture can still pass through both ComposTex and shade cloth as water vapor, covered piles should have sufficient water (e.g. 65 to 75%) initially, and then be monitored and watered as needed during the active compost phase.
  • There are also many times when piles either don't need to, or shouldn't be covered because this allows for exposure to rainfall to replace moisture lost during the compost process. Using covers only when needed not only reduces labor costs but also significantly extends cover durability by limiting their exposure to UV-light.
  • Depending on a number of factors including the orientation of the piles to the sun, cloud cover, and the amount of heat being emitted by a pile, ComposTex could become saturated with water and then freeze into a solid sheet and/or stick to the underlying compost and/or the ground when ambient temperatures drop below freezing before the covers have had a chance to dry out. For this reason, the use of ComposTex should be avoided on piles requiring frequent and/or regular access during the winter months in locations with extended periods of freezing temperatures.
  • Since ComposTex is substantially heavier when wet, it's best to avoid removing covers from windrows during, or immediately after a rainstorm to ensure they will be as dry (and lightweight) as possible.
  • ComposTex will shed water equally well with the smooth (“ComposTex”) side facing up OR down.  However, putting the smooth side DOWN will minimize the amount of compost particles (e.g. wood fibers, etc.) that tend to stick to the more fibrous side. Having this more fibrous side facing UP also provides some additional friction between the fabric and the anchors making it more likely that the covers will stay in place during windy conditions.

Deployment and Removal

  • If there’s enough room between piles, the covers can be deployed manually by unrolling them along the side of the pile and then simply pulling them up and over the top to the other side. On larger piles, the covers can also be unrolled along the top of a pile. This process is simply reversed to remove the covers.
  • For sites using tractor-pulled turners, a device known as a "threading frame" can be attached to the turner which raises and then lowers the cover as the turner is pulled through a pile - a diagram and photo of a threading frame can be seen here.
  • Cover "winder" attachments, or "fleece-rollers" for the front and/or rear of self-propelled turners are offered by some turner manufacturers to mechanically deploy and remove the covers - a photo of a fleece-roller made by Backus can be seen here.
  • Large self-propelled cover handling machines are also commercially available.

Anchoring Covers

  • As needed, anchor covers using truck tire sidewalls or sandbags. Start by pulling the cover tight along its length and placing one anchor on each corner. Then add anchors along each side as needed, typically at a spacing of every 15 to 20 ft.
Attaching Multiple Covers
  • For large and/or long piles, multiple covers can be placed side by side with a 12 to 24 inch overlap with anchors placed at the appropriate spacing on top of the overlap. ComposTex can also be ordered with grommets for attaching multiple covers together with rope, cable, or plastic ties.
Methods to Avoid Tearing the Covers
ComposTex is very tear-resistant. However, because the fabric absorbs many times its weight in water, if a large cover has to be handled before it can dry out, this extra weight could cause it to tear as it's being pulled off a pile.  So, here’s some ways to avoid tearing:
  • Avoid ordering covers that don’t weigh more than 150 to 200 lbs. However, if large windrows would require large covers that weigh more than that, we recommend purchasing multiple smaller covers. These smaller covers can then be placed side-by-side with a slight overlap, and then secured with weights placed along the overlapped seam, and help down with ropes laid along the seam and pulled tight with weights on the two ends.  After the covers arrive, grommets (or eyelets) could also be installed along the adjoining sides which can then be used to attach the covers together with a rope threaded through the grommets.
  • Order covers of the proper width so that there’s NO or minimal extra fabric lying on the compost pad, since this extra fabric will soak up water and add unnecessary weight.
  • If the covers are too wide at all stages of the compost process, the excess fabric along the edges should be cut off with a sharp scissors or utility knife.
  • When a cover becomes temporarily too wide due to pile shrinkage/volume reduction during the compost process, the excess fabric along the edges should be folded under to prevent exposure to rainfall and contact with the compost pad.
  • Do not pick up and/or pull the covers using equipment with metal edges that could cut or pierce the fabric.
  • When covers are not being used, store them in a location where they won’t be sitting in water.  
  • Whenever possible, operators should avoid removing the covers from the pile until they’ve had time to dry out. However, when covers have to be removed from a pile when they’re still wet, to reduce the risk of tearing, the “pulling forces” can be spread out over a larger surface area by creating one or more "grab loops" using a round object (e.g. a hardball, or tennis ball) wrapped inside a small bunched-up section of the cover and then "tied off" at the bottom with a rope leaving an exposed loop. These grab loops can then be used to attach the cover to whatever machine is being used to pull the covers on or off the pile.
  • If a cover is accidentally torn, polyester thread can be used to sew the two sections back together.
  • Store covers out of direct sunlight to avoid unnecessary exposure to UV-radiation.
  • Protect stored covers from rain and snow to keep them dry.
  • Avoid storing covers near active mice and/or rat populations since rodents could chew the fabric to make nests.
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