View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:22 pm



This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 50 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
 6 gallon Bio-composter 
Author Message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post 6 gallon Bio-composter
Jerry posted this update in January 2016 about his Bio-composter(link)

"... I've basically closed the shop. One reason is that the latch bin I've used is no longer in production, and my dimensions and templates are specifically designed for that box. Besides that, it's never been a profitable venture, and my regular work is keeping me very busy."

He will post a notice in the forum if the situation changes but for now his Bio-composter is no longer available.





Edit: This design and how it is used, has been evolving, and I'll do my best to update important changes.

Attachment:
6 gallon BSF Bio-composter.jpg
6 gallon BSF Bio-composter.jpg [ 353.28 KiB | Viewed 40500 times ]

This is my latest in a series of composters based on a 6 gallon (23 liter) Sterilite latch box. I made a video of the previous version which can be seen here: LINK

EDIT June 2014: I'm still using pine bark, but have become aware of an issue with the release of sap/resin in some batches. If you're using one of my bio-composters, you can dissolve pine resin with Dawn Ultra dish soap. A description of the pine bark issue and the Dawn Ultra treatment can be found here: LINK

I'm currently testing alternatives to pine bark, including corn cob bedding, common wood mulch, and using all hardwood lump charcoal. I used medium coconut husk (coir) chips in the past with good results, but after several months it tends to shred and slow down drainage.


UPDATE February 2012 - I've made a few changes in materials, such as; switching to pine bark and charcoal instead of lava rock and coconut coir, a better quality drain valve, a different type of connector where the drain exits the composter, styrofoam for the egg laying material, and I've also switched from a collection bag to a 1 gallon canister. I will edit this post so that the previous version can be compared with the current one. Here is the most recent photo:

Attachment:
Bio Composter 5.2014 500px.jpg
Bio Composter 5.2014 500px.jpg [ 236.95 KiB | Viewed 34394 times ]


EXPERIMENTAL DRAINAGE SYSTEM

EDIT 2/2014: I no longer consider this drainage system to be experimental. It has proven to be the most important improvement I've ever made to BSF composter design. Proper use of this system (regular flushing with water) virtually eliminates issues with excess anaerobic bacteria.

Attachment:
6 gal composter - drain pipe detail 1 w.jpg
6 gal composter - drain pipe detail 1 w.jpg [ 204.27 KiB | Viewed 40903 times ]

The most unusual feature of this composter is the vertical drain/filter system. I've been testing versions in several units this year with excellent results.

I've been using the vertical drains without a filter medium and whenever I need to clear material from the pipes it's been easy to accomplish - either using a wire or flushing with water. A few months of experimentation is not enough to claim success, but I've been feeding these units heavily with no signs of anaerobic conditions or serious clogging. This system is designed for use with coir chips, which I will talk about below.

The perforated pipes allow air to reach the lower levels of the waste and therefore help control anaerobic bacteria. The larvae aid in keeping the slots open by constantly passing through them. Even the largest larvae can easily pass through a slot the thickness of my saw blade [(3/32 in.) (2.4 mm)].

The first vertical drain I tried was in the DIY storage tote composter. For that I used 4 inch square pvc pipe with numerous holes drilled into it. It has been working very well, but I believe slots like these are even better. I'm not sure if the slots result in more open area, but I do believe their rectangular shape is superior for allowing liquids to pass through without clogging.

I wrote a brief post about perforated drain pipes here: LINK

COIR CHIPS/LAVA ROCK

I've been using fine grade coir chips combined with lava rock in all of my composters this year. Each unit started out with a layer of lava rock deep enough to cover the horizontal pipe followed with a coir layer about 3 inches (8 cm) deep. In theory, the lava rock helps prevent coir and waste from flowing vertically towards the drain. In BSF units we usually use filters to keep the drains open; this is what the coir chips do when used with the slotted drain pipes. I have not tested this drainage system without the combination of coir and lava rock.

There may be materials other than coir chips that will work just as well such as wood shavings, mulch, corn cob pieces, peanut shells, etc. I plan on testing some of these alternatives in the future.

FLUSHING/FLOODING WITH WATER

This system is designed to be flushed with water regularly. I originally began this practice because I wanted to mimic nature, where waste is exposed to rains. Flushing helps keep the waste aerated/aerobic because the fine BSF castings are washed through the system.

Coir keeps the waste lighter and drier, and given those conditions mature larvae will often pupate in the waste. For that reason, I usually flood my units almost to the top of the waste, once or twice per week. This induces the mature larvae to migrate out. To facilitate flooding, drainage systems on all my units can be closed off, either via a valve or by keeping the end of the drainage hose elevated.

Regular flushing creates a steady supply of effluent (liquid waste) rich in BSF castings which may be useful for gardeners.

TRANSPARENT BOX

I have also attempted to mimic nature by choosing a transparent material for this composter. Ultraviolet light rays are a powerful disinfectant, and they work even with indirect light. We couldn't eliminate all bacteria from the waste if we wanted to, but allowing UV light into the unit should help control it.

I really enjoy being able to see through the composter walls. Since I've been working with transparent composters I've been able to observe BSF behavior below the level of the waste. Without opening the unit, I can see if females are laying, and how much waste has been consumed. Some people may worry that since the larvae don't like light it will make the unit less efficient, but I haven't seen any evidence of that.

SELF HARVESTING SYSTEM
Attachment:
6 gal composter - inside 1.jpg
6 gal composter - inside 1.jpg [ 412.36 KiB | Viewed 40888 times ]

This composter uses a single ramp to harvest migrating mature larvae. Previous tests have shown that a single ramp can be very efficient. The point of using only one ramp is that it simplifies construction and reduces cost. On a larger composter I would probably add a second ramp.

The ramp is made with pvc molding called "outside corner". This material is easy to work with and fairly inexpensive. It will work in its basic "L" shape, but it's more efficient if you cut a small length from one side and glue it to the other to create a channel, as I've done in this unit.
Attachment:
outside corner molding.jpg
outside corner molding.jpg [ 109.22 KiB | Viewed 40903 times ]

Attachment:
Velcro detail.jpg
Velcro detail.jpg [ 98.04 KiB | Viewed 40903 times ]

Small adjustments in the shape of the top of the ramp can make a big difference in how well it works. The shape used in this version combined with placing Velcro on the wall above the pvc fitting has resulted in a high percentage of larvae dropping into the exit plumbing on their first trip. In the video below you can see that some of the larvae climb the top edge of the ramp, so that must be a consideration when designing the drop into the exit plumbing. The rim of the fitting that the larvae drop into has been tapered so they can't crawl on the edge.



This composter uses a 1" pvc 90º elbow for the harvest system exit. The previous version had two elbows including one which faced downward. Having a downward facing elbow on the outside of the composter created a dark space between the two fittings and larvae tended to congregate there. That slowed down traffic during heavy migrations. In this version, the exit is a straight horizontal pipe and since I'm using a clear bag as the collection container, this area receives more light, and that should keep the larvae moving better.
Attachment:
6 gal composter - small side 1 w.jpg
6 gal composter - small side 1 w.jpg [ 315.29 KiB | Viewed 40903 times ]

I've been using Foodsaver brand plastic bags as the collection container on several composters this year with great results. I put coir into the bag, slip it onto the pvc pipe and then wrap a Velcro strap around the bag. The opening of the bag can be tapered using the sealer which makes wrapping a bit easier. Even in heavy rains, the bags remain relatively dry inside. If the contents do get wet, the strap still prevents any larvae from escaping. My previous harvest containers required more fittings and pipe, and I think the shorter run of pipe used with this system is an improvement.

The collection bag is another case where using a transparent material allows you to see what's happening inside without removing it.

LID

The lid is made just like the one on the larger storage tote composter I previously published. As with that composter, this 6 gallon box has raised areas on the lid which are great places to cut out ventilation openings. Two lids are connected with pvc pipe as spacers.
Attachment:
6 gal composter - lid 1 w.jpg
6 gal composter - lid 1 w.jpg [ 271.85 KiB | Viewed 40903 times ]

The egg laying substrate is incorporated into the lid. The system shown here uses cut-to-fit air conditioner filter attached with cable ties. This substrate is meant to be semi-permanent, so if you want to transfer collected eggs then you should substitute cardboard. In that case you could also use both materials by inserting cardboard strips around the filter material and transferring only the eggs laid in the cardboard.

LARVA BARRIER

I believe Velcro hook tape works as well as any passive system for preventing larvae from escaping. The texture of the hooks breaks the surface tension which is what keeps the larvae stuck to the vertical wall. The tension breaks and the larvae fall back into the unit.

The most common problem with Velcro is that it sometimes fails to adhere and larvae wedge themselves under it. I've probably applied Velcro hook tape to fifty different bins and buckets to keep larvae contained, and if you apply it with proper technique it will stay in place for at least a whole season, and often more. (The Sticky Back type of Velcro is designed to be water resistant)

The first step is to thoroughly clean the surface with alcohol. It's easier to apply four pieces of hook tape as opposed to one long one. The strips should meet in each corner with small gaps to allow for expansion. It's crucial that you don't touch the cleaned surface or the sticky side of the hook tape with your fingers. Once the tape is in place it's a good idea to heat it with a hair dryer and then use the dull edge of a putty or butter knife to press out any air gaps which are visible through the transparent wall of the composter. The adhesive doesn't reach full strength for 24 hours, so it should be left to cure. If you follow this procedure, you should have few issues with the tape peeling. If failures occur, the problem areas can be cut out and replaced following the original procedure.

SUMMARY

Since this design is evolving I haven't put any effort into a parts list or detailed instructions. If anyone has a specific question about materials, dimensions, or construction techniques I will be happy to answer them here. I will post more photos as I take them.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:41 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:08 am
Posts: 9
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Two questions as of right now, did you use any molding or plaster on the trim/molding used for the ramp and also what do you mean by the pvc fitting needs to be tapered so they cannot crawl on the edge of it?


Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:06 pm
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
The back of the ramp and the part of the wall it touches were roughed up with coarse sand paper, and then it was cleaned with alcohol. A small amount of Gorilla Glue was applied to the ramp, then it was weighed down in place until it set, about 30 minutes. Then the screws were attached. I think the glue alone would eventually fail. If you only used the screws, larvae would probably be able to wedge themselves between the wall and the ramp. It wouldn't be a large number of larvae, but it's not pretty and a little glue should be enough to prevent it.

The Gorilla Glue expands like foam as it cures and it oozes out along the edges. Since it doesn't adhere to this type of plastic it's pretty easy to clean off, at least it is if you do it within an hour. I haven't tried letting it sit longer.

The edge of the fittings are flat and about 3/16 inch (5 mm) wide. If you don't bevel the edge to make it sharp, the larvae drop onto it, crawl around, and often drop back into the waste.

Attachment:
beveled edge elbow fitting.jpg
beveled edge elbow fitting.jpg [ 163.33 KiB | Viewed 40879 times ]

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:08 am
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:08 am
Posts: 9
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Thanks for the speedy reply, cleared everything right up. The trim piece really confused me because it looks like 1 solid piece yet I know you cut it, just went back together that good


Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:05 am
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
You're welcome TF. I've been considering offering this composter for sale. I think I could do it for around $50 plus shipping.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:38 pm
Profile Send private message WWW
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
I added a lizard/frog barrier to the lid. Lizards and frogs can have a significant effect on egg laying by sitting in the composter and eating the female BSF that come to lay. This is a strip of plastic hardware cloth that was simply wrapped around the pvc spacers and secured to itself with one cable tie.
Attachment:
6 gal composter - lizard barrier.jpg
6 gal composter - lizard barrier.jpg [ 151.11 KiB | Viewed 40709 times ]

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:39 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:26 am
Posts: 2
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
You mentioned you may sell these 6 gallon units. If so let me know. bhenry1528---sbcglobal---net

I could make one but I haven't got 50 years of life left.


Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:32 pm
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Blake, I'll send you an email. :)

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:29 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:51 am
Posts: 1
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
I noticed in the video that some of the little guys seem to crawl back out of the 90 degree intake. Would there be any negative effects of placing a longer drop and potentially wider intake for them to fall in to. I was thinking something like the cut off top of a plastic bottle. I suppose it would just decrease the total amount of waste volume that the tote could hold.


Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:09 am
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
wmw752 wrote:
I noticed in the video that some of the little guys seem to crawl back out of the 90 degree intake. Would there be any negative effects of placing a longer drop and potentially wider intake for them to fall in to. I was thinking something like the cut off top of a plastic bottle. I suppose it would just decrease the total amount of waste volume that the tote could hold.

Hi wmw. Thanks for joining and for your suggestion.

I was ready to make similar changes to what you suggest, but in tests and also in practice I've been collecting a very high percentage of the crawl-off. Some larvae do crawl back out, but in successive attempts to migrate out of the composter they end up in the collection bag.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:59 am
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:28 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Jerry wrote:
Blake, I'll send you an email. :)

Jerry, I would happily pay you $50 plus shipping to make me one! I am a 'crafty' person who loves creating new things with my own hands, but I think this might be a bit too much for me. I've been reading all of your posts and watching your videos from several years of your experimentation...so fascinating! I love experimenting!

Please let me know if you are still offering this Composter for sale. Backyardchickenlady at gmail dot com


Sun Nov 24, 2013 1:59 am
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Hi BCL, welcome to our forum!

I have a page for purchasing this composter on the main site. You can see it here: LINK

Now that you mention it, I'm not sure if I ever contacted Blake...

Anyway, thanks for your interest. I've had great success using this composter and I believe it's the easiest system to keep balanced/aerobic.

PS. I have the drain tube and valve as an option for now, but I think it's an important part of the system and I will probably make it a standard feature in the future.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:33 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:28 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Jerry wrote:
Hi BCL, welcome to our forum!

I have a page for purchasing this composter on the main site. You can see it here: LINK

Now that you mention it, I'm not sure if I ever contacted Blake...

Anyway, thanks for your interest. I've had great success using this composter and I believe it's the easiest system to keep balanced/aerobic.

PS. I have the drain tube and valve as an option for now, but I think it's an important part of the system and I will probably make it a standard feature in the future.


Thanks Jerry, I just bought one! Sent the extra for the drain tube and valve as well. :-)


Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:06 pm
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Thanks BCL, but you should know that the BSF breeding season is over where you live, and probably won't begin again until late April or even May. If you prefer to hold onto your money until then, just let me know and we'll refund your payment. I'm sure we'll be just as happy about getting an order next spring. ;)

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:25 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:07 am
Posts: 1
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Is the composter used for part or all of the life cycle of the BSF, i.e. how does one create a sustaining system? Thanks for the incredible info on this site. Where do i find info about their egg production ?


Tue Nov 26, 2013 3:01 am
Profile Send private message
Global Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:59 pm
Posts: 2597
Location: Alberta Canada
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
dana welcome to our forum :) If you'd like you can introduce yourself here (link).

I'll give a quick answer until Jerry can get back to you.
dana wrote:
Is the composter used for part or all of the life cycle of the BSF, i.e. how does one create a sustaining system?
The composter relies on a wild population of BSF and mating occurs outside of the composter so the adult flies only visit to lay eggs. In most situations the wild populations will go dormant over the winter even in climates as warm as Florida.

Quote:
Where do i find info about their egg production ?
Check the scientific papers in the Knowledge base (link) section.

_________________
BorealWormer

I Believe The Black Soldier Fly Has The Potential To Be A Beneficial Insect Second Only To Pollinating Bees


Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:01 pm
Profile Send private message WWW
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Welcome dana!

I agree with BorealWormer's response.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:23 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:25 am
Posts: 1
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
While the design looks great, I wonder about one potential problem:

The bin is clear – for bacteria control, as you stated. But with that disinfecting UV radiation comes a lot of warming Infrared light. Added to this, the BSFL generate quite a bit of body heat. Do you have any issues with temperature control in this unit, especially on hot, sunny days?

_________________
"An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded." ~ Pope John Paul II


Thu Dec 26, 2013 2:43 pm
Profile Send private message
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:35 pm
Posts: 1608
Location: Central Florida, USA
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Hi cjw, welcome to the forum.

I have not had significant temperature issues with this unit compared to opaque composters I've used in the past.

I don't know much at all about light, but I do keep the unit fully shaded during hot periods and maybe that limits heat gain from infra red enough that it isn't a problem. I was told by someone that the UV from indirect lighting would still effect bacteria. I can't say whether or not the transparent box has helped control bacteria, but I can say that I'm happy with the ability to see what's happening below the surface. I also like the fact that I can look inside and see if any adults are laying without the need to lift the lid. It would be hard for me to go back to opaque composters.

There were a few times where I had added large quantities of waste during the hottest part of the day where I saw juvenile larvae migrating out of the system due to heat. I resolved the problem by flushing the unit with fresh water, which has an almost instant effect. We will always have to deal with overheating if we feed near the maximum levels in hot weather, but after one full season of testing I've found this design to be as tolerant to heat as any other. The combination of large vents and regular flushing with water are probably the main reasons for that.

This fall I've placed the composter where it gets partial sun in the afternoons so that it can recover from the cool night temperatures. One thing that has surprised me is that I've seen juvenile larvae, below the surface, resting against the composter wall when it was receiving direct sunshine. I often observe this behavior, but I would have thought that the direct light would have caused them to move away. So much to learn! ;)

Thanks for the question.

_________________
blacksoldierflyblog.com

*I'm not an entomologist, and much of what I write about BSF is an educated guess.


Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:36 pm
Profile Send private message WWW

Joined: Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:03 am
Posts: 2
Post Re: 6 gallon Bio-composter
Hi Jerry,

I'm in the process of building a system to your specs. I was wondering about the flushing of your system, do you empty it before flushing? Also, you make mention of using charcoal instead of lava rocks. In what form do you create this base?

Thanks,

Mark


Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:31 am
Profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.   [ 50 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.