Posts Tagged With: Composting

The Black Soldier Fly Project

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Cherry Crossing Research Center is where we conduct research on converting organic wastes like food and landscape residue into value added products. In addition to producing mulch and compost for sale to the public, we are also growing Black Soldier Fly larvae. These little bugs eat 5 times their body weight daily! They then self-harvest right into our buckets when they reach their optimal maturity to pupate into an adult Black Soldier Fly. Larvae are 42% protein and 35% fat, making them great for bait, poultry feed and fish feed. Part of our research is drying the larvae (using waste heat from our biodiesel lab) and pressing the oil out of the larvae to produce clean burning renewable biodiesel from campus food waste. Once the oil is removed, the protein portion remains as a nutritious protein meal pellet to be used for rearing tilapia at the Clemson Student Organic Farm.

To learn more about this project, you can visit the Black Soldier Fly Creative Inquiry page!

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Clemson’s Sustainability Initiatives

This 2014 video informs the viewer of Clemson’s sustainability initiatives. It shows how Clemson University is a sustainable university. Through the leadership of the President’s Commission on Sustainability (PCS) this media piece shares some specific initiatives that show why Clemson is considered a leader in the area of sustainability. This iMovie talk-over highlights many sustainability initiatives that meet the goal’s of Clemson’s Sustainability Action Plan. Brandi Staley, a PCS intern working with Gary Gaulin, Associate Director for Sustainability, wrote the script and produced the video to help inform the Clemson community of the top reasons why Clemson is a sustainable university and to share interesting information that motivates students, faculty, and staff to learn more about sustainability initiatives on campus.

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Composting in a greenhouse?

So i was having trouble logging in when i was supposed to do an entry earlier, but better late than never!

A couple weeks ago i was looking for ways to (efficently) keep worms alive and active during winter, i came across this article about one lady’s method for vermicomposting. I would definitely recommend reading/ skimming/ or even just looking at the pictures in this article. I love that this method could be kept at a relatively small scale, or expanded to a larger scale operation. I found this article before we went to the airport for the tour, but looking at both systems gives a good perspective on how we could use methods from each system to make our own. 

When we toured, the lady at the airport (whose name i forgot…)  asked if we had an empty building that we could keep the vermicomposting bins in, unfortunately we don’t have empty heated buildings to keep dirt and worms in at our disposal,  BUT what if we made a greenhouse to keep them in? That’s where the article comes in, they put their worms in a greenhouse to keep then warm in the winter, however they keep their compost below ground in concrete lined boxes to ensure the worms don’t over heat. These boxes are have lids divided in two 4 foot panels, They harvest the compost by luring the worms to the opposite side of the box with fresh food, once the worms migrate to the fresher side they collect the abandoned nutrient-rich castings. 

The harvesting at the airport seems much simpler and less tedious, im still trying to wrap my head around a way that would encompass the best of both worlds. The greenhouse is ideal because it uses passive energy in the winter and wouldn’t cost too much for upkeep. Perhaps a greenhouse with removable panels

Something to ponder.

im a very hands on, DIY sort of person, so the thought of buying bins like we saw at the airport, or buying a greenhouse makes me cringe, i think it would be fairly simple to construct our own system, first as a small scale prototype then maybe expanding if we succeed. 

-Briana Cairco

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Clemson University Campus Composting

Gary’s day-to-day activities as a leaderof Clemson University Campus Composting Creative Inquiry.

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Shelter Modifications and Grinding Yard Waste

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Clemson Composting has been able to take significant steps forward this summer. Last week we began grinding all the excess yard waste and trees from the Clemson campus and modifying our shelters. The shelters will help protect the BW in-vessel system and our inputs. The newly ground yard waste will be recycled as compost via in-vessel and windrow composting methods. We’d like to give a special thanks to Tim for operating our lift during construction.

We have also purchased equipment to begin a pilot scale aerated system. This will allow us to produce compost by pumping air through windrows and eliminating the need to turn them with our front end loader. We hope that this will increase efficiency in our process by significantly reducing the amount of labor time needed for composting. We will have updates on the aerated system soon!

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Why composting matters…

I have always known that composting is a good practice for people to adopt, but as I continue to work with Clemson’s composting program it is becoming all the more apparent just how beneficial composting really is. To understand why composting is such a vital process, it is best to first become aware of some troubling facts about food waste:

  • All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.
  • The UK, US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations. Up to half the entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork.
  • If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people’s mouths.
  • The bread and other cereal products thrown away in UK households alone would have been enough to lift 30 million of the world’s hungry people out of malnourishment.
  • 24 to 35% of school lunches end up in the bin.
  • An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops – mostly because they do not match the supermarkets’ excessively strict cosmetic standards.
  • 2.3 million tons of fish are discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year; 40 to 60% of all fish caught in Europe are discarded – either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system.
  • There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tons of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.

WOW. That is a monumental amount of food waste! It really breaks my heart to know how wasteful we are when there are so many people in the world who have so little and would give so much to have just the tiniest fraction of food that we aren’t even eating. That to me is perhaps the most unnerving reality of the situation. Unfortunately, it’s not just food that we are wasting. We’re sacrificing money, energy, land, water, and even the well-being of the environment to produce nearly four times more food than is needed. There are tremendous negative effects that this massive amount of food waste is causing. Below are just a handful of facts regarding the ripple effects of food waste:

  • The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 liters per person per day) of 9 billion people – the number expected on the planet by 2050.
  • If we planted trees on land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
  • 10% of rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never eaten.
  • 8.3 million hectares of land required to produce just the meat and dairy products wasted in UK homes and in US homes, shops and restaurants. That is 7 times the amount of Amazon rainforest destroyed in Brazil in one year, largely for cattle grazing and soy production to export for livestock feed.
  • Between 2 and 500 times more carbon dioxide can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion (the UK government’s preferred option). But under European laws feeding food waste to pigs is banned. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by contrast, it is mandatory to feed some food waste to pigs.

Not to mention that most food products have excessive packaging, adding to the unnecessary amount of non-biodegradable waste that inevitably ends up in landfills (unless you recycle!). To avoid even further waste, it is important to understand how expiration dates and sell-by dates are intended to work. A surprising amount of food waste comes from food that is thrown out by households that believe it to be past it’s expiration date, when in reality it is still okay to eat.

With the mention of non-biodegradable waste, one might question the real dangers of biodegradable waste, being that it is in fact biodegradable. However, what most people fail to realize is that food waste, left rotting in a landfill, will release a substantial amount of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that has largely contributed to global warming.

At this time I find it imperative that the general population begins making serious efforts to reduce waste. I also find composting to be an essential practice for reversing and reducing some of the serious problems that excessive food waste has brought about. Among the many benefits of composting, some of the most important (according to the EPA) are the following:

  • Compost enriches soils. Compost has the ability to break down organic matter and create humus – a rich nutrient-filled material. This can increase moisture in soil. Compost also has the ability to suppress diseases and pests, which can eliminate the need for chemicals and fertilizers.
  • Compost can clean up contaminated soils. The scientific explanation of this can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/benefits.htm
  • By diverting food waste from landfills, composting greatly reduces pollution. Composting also has the ability to prevent pollutants in storm water runoff from reaching surface water resources.
  • Composting also has some considerable economic benefits. Using compost can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Composting also extends municipal landfill life by diverting organic materials from landfills and provides a less costly alternative to conventional methods of cleaning contaminated soil.

So there you have it! Composting may seem like a trivial practice to those unaware of how destructive years and years of too much food waste have been, but composting provides an alternative solution to that problem. It is for that reason we are so passionate about improving our own composting program here at Clemson University. Big change starts at the individual level and the more people we can convince to get on board with composting, the better chance we have of making a difference on a larger scale before the story of our planet ends up like the unfortunate tale of Wall-E. Just something to think about…

References:

http://www.feeding5k.org/food-waste-facts.php
http://www.greenworks.co.za/reducefoodwastepage.html
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/composting/benefits.htm

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