In 2016, we strived to dial-in our system with the intention of processing a greater volume of material more efficiently. We processed over 33,000 tons of material–food, yard debris, brewery by-products, and fruit-waste that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. This is up from from 23,000 tons in 2015! In 2016, we produced nearly 13,000 yards of compost–almost 3,000 more yards than the previous year–allowing us to go into the spring growing season with plenty of compost on the ground.
Increased processing capacity and production at the Dirt Huger site did not happen within a vacuum, rather, these were due to facility and equipment improvements and a general growth in the organics recycling market. With that growth we have hired five new employees since this time last year, bringing us up to 13 employees total. New employees are in the areas of production, mechanics, trucking, facility improvement, and grounds crew.
Along with an increase in crew size, a number of site improvements were made over the past year. For one, we transitioned our Stage 2 Compost Curing area to mass bed curing and now turn this material with a compost turner instead of a front end loader. Without the need for loader lanes we have essentially doubled our volume of curing capacity. Increased storage capacity for liquid feedstock was also crossed off our goal list this year with the installation of x2 10,000 gallon tanks–allowing us to accept an increased liquid volume and better capture compost leachate for reapplication.
On the other side of the Dirt Hugger operation–we made a tremendous effort to offer high-quality, creative soil products and services. To help local orchardists and vineyard managers more efficiently apply compost, we began renting out a Kuhn Knight 8110 spreader. This PTO-driven side discharge spreader fits perfectly in orchard rows and the rate at which it can throw out compost is well beyond our expectations.
We are excited to see all of these developments and are hoping to maintain a measured balance between growth, product quality and operational efficiency. All that is to say – we plan to hit the pause button, find a cruising altitude, and not grow too quickly–allowing us to focus on creating the highest quality compost possible and having fun along the way.
Here’s a little look into what’s been happening around Dirt Hugger: