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 Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units 
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Post Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Drainage/filtration is one of the main issues in black soldier fly (BSF) composter design.

Please share any ideas or experience you have, including everything from direct drainage into the ground to complex plumbing systems.

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Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:36 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
PeteB has a wire screen filter that works well. See Fiddling with Filters (link)

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Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:45 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Here’s an update to the original concept. (link). It works even better without the wire strainer.
1. Cut a section out of an old bucket.
2. Push the material aside, and drop the shield into position.
3. Tilt the bin at an angle of 3-4°.
4. Sit back and enjoy a well drained bin. :P
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Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:57 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
You're a valuable asset PeteB! :)

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Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:52 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
I had been searching the net for bin designs and found yours and like it a lot, about to have one thrown together. I have been procrastinating due to it still being cold season and early for me to try starting a BSF colony. I have however been staring at your design trying to think of any ways I could improve or modify it to fit my personal preference.


One idea I had was using 2 buckets instead of 1, and cutting the inside bucked bottom out and replacing it with screen. That just made the side vents a little more complicated as well as the larvae escape route.

Next idea was using a 5 gallon composting tea bag on the unit, by dropping it in properly you would no longer need velcro below the vents. Though I then thought of how much of a hassle making a hole in it (that wont rip or let grubs through) for the larvae escape route.

My final thought and idea I am going to try. I found these on ebay whilst looking up cheap composting tea bags. http://www.ebay.com/itm/280860229271?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

My idea would be to remove the top lip allowing the strainer to drop into the bucket. Then using something (you practice gold balls maybe) to hold it above a certain point. Just throwing out my ideas for this query. Will be building mine here in the next 2 weeks.


Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:18 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Hi TLOR FETT and welcome to the forum. I'm glad you're interested and hope you can come up with some improvements.

I'm assuming here that you're thinking of setting the top bucket into the bottom bucket the way you would normally do if you were stacking them. You could probably cut vent holes in the bottom bucket that line up with the vents in the top bucket. However, I'm not a fan of using fine mesh with BSFL for a few reasons; it clogs quickly and the larvae will either tear it up or get stuck in it. Using a bottom bucket to catch the effluent (liquid waste) eliminates the need to make a drain outlet and hose system so it would probably be easier and cheaper to build. One thing I liked about the existing design is that I could hang it on a hook to keep it off of the ground, away from ants and under shade, but you might be able to adapt a two bucket design to allow that also.

I'm pretty happy with the way the filter works (although there is a lot of debate and testing that still needs to be done in this area). If I were building a two bucket design today I would probably use the same filter as in the current bucket only I would drill a few holes in the bottom (of the top bucket) to allow the effluent to drain into the bottom bucket. I think there will always be some larvae that escape through a system like this, but all you need to do is to fish out the strays occasionally and return them. Actually, in a system that drains well I would probably collect the effluent together with the stray larvae and dump it all back in the bucket again. With a properly functioning filter almost all of the effluent should pass through in a few minutes leaving the larvae behind. I would also ring the inside of the bottom bucket a few inches off of the bottom with Velcro to stop the stray larvae from climbing up the walls. No, I don't own stock in Velcro. :D In that arrangement I don't think you would need a spacer like the golf balls I used, I think the bottom grid of the filter unit could sit on the bottom of the top bucket.

It's always hard to picture exactly what someone is describing so I don't want to discourage you from experimenting. If you've got extra buckets (or money) you can always try a few variations at the same time.

I may not have been clear enough when I first posted the bucket composter but it isn't a high capacity design. I've seen examples of people using it successfully on a small scale, but it's easy to overload a small unit like this. I'm not trying to discourage you from trying it, I just want you to know the limitations.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:08 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Right on everything sounds great and I had the the ideas come up that are your reason for not using the tea bags. My main aim is a filtration system they cannot destroy being I see they like to tear up your preferred method. If I don't come up with something on my own that works out I will use your method most likely with the 2 buckets.

As for the capacity I made good note of it as I was originally going to build a HUGE compost bin in comparison to this (55 gallon) but read how much you say this takes care of. The food waste used will be from a family of 3 so not a lot. I actually had debated making two units at once in case I exceeded its capacity.

Also don't know if this is thread jacking or if their is a thread on it already. Anyone have a good prepared meal for them to thrive off of and eat, I know you like to use corn cob to attract them but was wondering about a prepared food/medium for them.


Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
TLOR FETT wrote:
Right on everything sounds great and I had the the ideas come up that are your reason for not using the tea bags. My main aim is a filtration system they cannot destroy being I see they like to tear up your preferred method. If I don't come up with something on my own that works out I will use your method most likely with the 2 buckets.

As for the capacity I made good note of it as I was originally going to build a HUGE compost bin in comparison to this (55 gallon) but read how much you say this takes care of. The food waste used will be from a family of 3 so not a lot. I actually had debated making two units at once in case I exceeded its capacity.

Also don't know if this is thread jacking or if their is a thread on it already. Anyone have a good prepared meal for them to thrive off of and eat, I know you like to use corn cob to attract them but was wondering about a prepared food/medium for them.


I've heard of my current filter design being shredded, but I would like to see some hard evidence of that. I operated this system for most of a season with no problem. I can accept that it failed in some cases, but I would like to see the set up before and after so that I'm not just taking someone's word that they used my exact method.

You can feed BSFL almost anything that you eat or feed a pet. I've used dry dog food and fish pellets before, but it's a shame to use good food if you can find something that no one wants to eat. :)

One correction; I used fermented dried corn (soaked), not cob, to attract them. PeteB mentioned fermented pumpkin which I'm going to try this year. I did experiment with dried corn cob bedding as an additive to the waste to encourage aeration. I'm not sure how successful it was.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:53 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
I guess initially I got the wrong impression I thought you had cases of it being shredded up and did not know the rate of having to repalce it, thats why I am/was aiming for a renewable filter system. Though I will probably start off with yours and experiment later.

I do plan on feeding them all of our unwanted items but I may possibly want more worms than my households waste can produce.


Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:21 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
I did have a previous version shredded by the larvae, but not after I sandwiched a synthetic A/C filter between two grids. I wonder if some people failed to tie the two grids which is necessary to hold the filter unit together. I imagine that with a very dense colony you might see the larvae pull the fibers out of the grid, but I didn't have a very dense population on purpose. It would be an interesting test that I might have to try this year.

Image

Quote:
I do plan on feeding them all of our unwanted items but I may possibly want more worms than my households waste can produce.


Sometimes I ran out of household food scraps too, but I also had several storage totes in operation with BSFL at the time. At one point I was buying hog feed at the local feed store for about $9 per 50lb bag. It was mostly ground corn and it needed to be thoroughly soaked, unless you needed to dry out the waste.

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Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:50 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
TLOR FETT, have you checked out Peter's bucket composter? It's definitely worth a look.

6 gallon bucket

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Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:37 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
The design is great, I may have to emulate the ramp for my 5gal due to what i read about worms getting clogged in the vinyl tube. Makes since he is in South Africa for I have never seen a 6gal bucket, nor a bucket like that. But thats fairly moot anything can be used as long as we are ingenuitive.


Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:38 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
I also like the larva barrier he constructed. For most people it's probably easier to use Velcro but if you have an extra bucket and some handyman/alchemist skills PeteB's method is effective and cheap.

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Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:43 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
My only problem with his design is the use of plaster of paris for the ramp though everyone ends up using something similar for that design of ramp. Also he does murder two innocent buckets for his barrier rim and ramp but like you said if you have the materials at hand then use them.


Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:52 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
TLOR FETT wrote:
My only problem with his design is the use of plaster of paris for the ramp though everyone ends up using something similar for that design of ramp. Also he does murder two innocent buckets for his barrier rim and ramp but like you said if you have the materials at hand then use them.


Peter hates buckets. :P

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Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:07 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Thinking about filters, this idea came to mind.
The 12“ flower pot tray happened to be the right size. You don’t want a watertight fit. It needs some 1.0 mm gaps, so the liquid can trickle through.
That said, the concept is untested. The original BSF bucket was de-commissioned, as you can see from the black tar.


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Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:53 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Peter, what do you think would be the consequence of drilling several small holes in the tray? Might it add, detract, or would you guess it would have a neutral effect?

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Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:20 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
I have a feeling that holes, and I mean any holes, are useless and will eventually get clogged. If at all necessary, I'd rather take a file and make a few flat spots around the periphery of the disc.


Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
TLOR FETT wrote:
My only problem with his design is the use of plaster of paris for the ramp though everyone ends up using something similar for that design of ramp.


Peter, what is your opinion about the plaster of paris these days?

Considering the scale and relatively low cost of bucket systems it might be fine to build one with the goal of using it for only one season. Most people will probably want to move up to a larger system after one season anyway.

The problem we all face working with polyethylene buckets is that modern science has not invented a solvent glue to bond these plastics. That, combined with the fact that BSFL will eventually pry apart almost any adhesive joint.

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Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:09 am
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Post Re: Drainage/filter concepts for BSF units
Quote:
what is your opinion about the plaster of paris these days?

Jerry, as a filler, I think the plaster of paris (aka crack filler) works extremely well. Of course it has no adhesive properties. The plastic gutter was fixed in with short screws, then the plaster packed into it.
Quote:
modern science has not invented a solvent glue to bond these plastics. That, combined with the fact that BSFL will eventually pry apart almost any adhesive joint.

Epoxy putty sets like concrete, and grubs will not burrow into it. The contact adhesive sticks reasonably well to polyethylene, and there are a host of different brands. However, it won't last forever in a BSF bin. Talking about 'quick & dirty' bins I'm running this one, (link) and I'm quite pleased with it. ;)


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Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:27 pm
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