John A. Crockett's High Tech Compost and Magic Soil: Interview from Mother Nature's Farms by Willi Paul
John A. Crockett's High Tech Compost and Magic Soil: Interview from Mother Nature's Farms by Willi Paul

Hi Willi,

Great to connect with you.

When I think of R&D, I think of getting answers to practical questions, information essential to responsibly designing a food composting facility. How much forced aeration is "optimal", how much "force" does it take to move the air through the compost? What is the "optimal" moisture content?

What is the oxygen & CO2 profile in the composting mass, the temperature profile, and the active bacteria population profile?

There is some info about my evolution in composting if you click here. I spent over $100,000 in Tuition at the college of hard knocks during my first 27 months in composting, and what I learned is that I had a lot to learn, that I could not rely on what I now call sacred myths that are firmly entrenched in the composting industry.

Einstein stated that "Problems are never solved by the same level of awareness that created them."

Solving today's 'waste' problems requires major paradigm shifts, including within the compost processing. See the attached. Turn around time is vital, for ROI. And long term profitability requires holistic thinking. Woodhue Composting, NY Times article show what cutting corners can cost. I assume the investors lost everything. compostalert.com shows what neighbors can do when the composter is not really committed to being a very good neighbor.

And, with our technologies, trash can be converted to cash and Magic Soil . It takes extraordinary vision and team leadership, to create the team synergy that yields this kind of end results.

I look forward to your feedback, your ideas, on how this can be moved forward. We need the benefits to society and our environment.

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Talk about the major profitability factors in large scale composting?

Alternative cost of disposal is #1- tipping fees can and should be over 80% of gross revenues. In the Lower Hudson River Valley region, for example, the Peekskill incinerator charges $85 per ton. The Suburban Transfer station in Mount Kisco is $146 per ton. Trucking to distant landfills is close to as expensive. Cedar Grove Composting's website says their tipping fee for food waste is $58.50.

Having a composting technology that efficiently utilizes the facility's capacity. Many composters use "windrows" with empty valleys between the windrows, empty 'real estate' that is not being utilized. Trapezoid is much more efficient space utilization.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 360 regulations (NYS DEC) stipulate a minimum setback from compost to nearest residential structure of 500'. That means a significant portion of the land is in that setback zone. This favors large scale.

The most efficient trapezoid compost pile turner appears to be the Backhus 11.30, which can turn 1,600 cubic yards an hour, and cost about $462,000. Again, resource utilization- this machine want to be working at 75% of capacity so the total cost of operating the machine is amortized out over more compost. Turning with a wheel loader is closer to 50¢ per cubic yard, per turn, whereas the Backhus 11.30 can bring that down to about 12½¢, per cubic yard, per turn.

When receiving food residuals in the summer, a roll-off container that's been behind a supermarket or restaurant for a week can be more than a bit aromatic when unloading. Thus, that tipping wants to be inside, with the air being bio-filtered for eliminating the foul odors. The cost of this tipping area wants to be amortized over volume.

Moisture Balancing technology to minimize tying up resources on low tipping fee bulking agents. Some facilities even have to pay for bulking agents. Our own hands-on research led us to a very functional solution in this area, which we treat as a proprietary trade secret.

What the history of US corporate tech and investment in this type of enterprise?

Garick from Ohio bought the Nestlé New Milford Farm facility, and I think they thought they were getting a great deal because of the low price they paid for it. (New Milford, Connecticut.) I visited that facility probably over 20 times while Nestlé owned and operated it, so I have considerable knowledge about it. Garick is apparently owned by Hendricks Holding Company. I have very limited information about these companies.

Peninsula Composting, South Wilmington, Delaware, built a new food waste and yard waste facility last year, utilizing the "Gore Cover" technology, stated cost: $25 million, projected annual volume, 160,000 tons, which is $125 of capital cost, per ton, annual capacity. Our projected capital cost is $78.49, and let's assume that cost overruns take that up to $90. We're still talking about much more capital efficiency, and we're talking about the entire composting operation being under roof.

What makes your technology better than others?

Our pre-processing technology, including and not limited to shredding to ?". Other features of our pre-processing, that give us significant advantages, are proprietary trade secrets, the results of our years of hands-on R&D. Our knowledge of "forced aeration" that has come from our years of hand's on research. Our knowledge of how to eliminate foul odors, our Dynamic Bio-Filter technology, which is wildly cost and space efficient, while eliminating the problems that cause conventional bio-filters to fail.

Our Progressive Inoculation Technology, which, again, is proprietary.

Our ability to 'check up' on our microbial master composters, to get solid documentation of how many we have on the job, working for us. While in most businesses, management checks up on the productivity of the workforce, in composting the primary "workers" are microbes, and checking up on them is a bit more involved. It involves taking samples, going through serial dilutions, in the case of active bacteria, staining with Fluorsescein Diacetate, and then actually counting the bacteria using Epi-Fluorescence microscopy, in house. The spreadsheet shows the QuattroPro template that we us, with the data from sample #2518, which had 5.48 billion active bacteria, per 'teaspoonful' of compost.

Plant growth response R&D is vital for helping discover ways of further improving the finished product. See the reference letter (second letter of five) available here and also attached to the end of the executive summary.

A team culture of Kaizen, with team profit sharing, so everyone on the team has a vested interest in long term profit. The salaries are on the low side, with the profit sharing more than making up for the low salaries, provided the team generates the profits. This protects the investors.

Unwavering team commitment to being a good neighbor, which ties in with the team profit sharing.

Besides the money, what characteristics make a great investor for Mother Nature's Farms Venture?

There is a lot of satisfaction in taking what has been considered "taste" and turning it into Magic Soil and then growing plants, vegetables, and eating those vegetables, knowing that we are making a massive contribution to creating a sustainable environment. We will be happy to acknowledge those investors, for making it happen, in a way that they consider appropriate.

What's in Magic Soil and who has tested it so far?

The proof of Magic Soil is in the way plants respond to it. See the reference letter from Dr. Frances Delahanty, mentioned above.

Soilfoodweb of NY tested a sample and the results show that it is about 10 times richer than what we were making on the horse farms back in the 1990's.

What do the microbe workers need to do their job?

TLC, tender loving care; oxygen, appropriate moisture, food, and temperature control, within limits.

Explain how providing and monitoring oxygen is such a big deal here!

The only difference in the feedstock between 2540 and 2541 is that the material in 2541 was on forced aeration for the 6 days immediately before sampling, and turned 3 times during that 6 days, whereas the material that 2540 was taken from was in a passively aerated windrow, that was not turned. The result was that the full time forced aeration and turning resulted in over 51 times more active bacteria.

Could you work well without oxygen? Seriously, when we think about it, it makes common sense, and our research reinforces that premise.

There is a spirituality to your business vision. Explain!

While handling the feedstock is far from 'glorious', seeing what we can do when we help mother nature, that we can take "waste" and with the very able help of the microbial master composters that Mother Nature supplies, to experience, feel the massive life energy in the compost, and the finished MagicbioSoil hard to describe in words.

The whole project is about creating a sustainable environment, and soil stewardship, enabling the soil to yield nutrient rich food which can enable people to re-create vibrant health, to re-vitalize their immune system. Note that The Gerson Therapy, which has had over a 40% CURE rate on terminal cancer patients, for over 75 years, is largely based on the nutrition from organically grown produce. See Incurables; a short video on curing incurable cancer using the Gerson Therapy. In contrast, we have an article from December, 2009, where Sloan Kettering essentially admits that they don't know how to cure cancer. Restoring life to the soil and education is the basis of fixing our health care system.

To go out into my garden, pick an ear of corn, husk it right there, pull off the corn silk, and eat it, raw, is an awesome experience. There is tremendous life energy in our Magic Soil . We can provide massive value to society and our environment, and have a by-product of a nice ROI. Over 99% of my income will be from earned profits. Everyone on the team will be relying on the Team Profit Sharing. We all share a vested interest in success.

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Connections -

Working Together to Create a Sustainable Environment
John A. Crockett, a.k.a. Dr. Mike Robe
Mother Nature's Farms
(845) 225-7763
Jac at magicsoil dot com