Climate Solutions: Aerators? What are those for?

Too lazy to turn your compost bin? Is it not easy to turn, or smells bad? If you answered yes to any of these questions, an aerator could be the right tool for you!

Aeration (or the addition of air) is a very important ingredient in your compost pile. The microbes breaking down all the material in your compost pile need air to survive. These microbes are constantly using up the available air, so by turning or aerating your bin, you are ensuring they will continue to thrive. When there is not enough air in your compost pile, decomposition turns anaerobic. In anaerobic decomposition, a different variety of microbe is breaking down material without air. The digesting microbe lets off sulfur which means the compost pile can start to smell!

A corkscrew aerator.

Aerators come in two main styles. They either have wings or they look like a corkscrew. The aerator to the left is pushed straight down. As it is lifted, the “wings” at the end of the aerator spread out, moving material and allowing for air flow. In the picture on the right, the aerator is rotated into the compost pile to the desired depth. It is then pulled straight back out.

This aeration method of pushing or rotating the aerator into the compost pile and then pulling it back out is less time consuming and requires less physical exertion than turning a compost pile with a pitchfork. Aerators do increase air flow in the pile, but not to the extent that turning the entirety of the pile would. If you want to harvest your compost quickly, turning the whole pile is the most successful method. If you don’t want to spend the time, are looking for something less physical, or do not have compost bin that is easily turned, an aerator is a great alternative to increase air flow in your compost pile.

Solana Center has aerators for sale! The aerator we are selling is the corkscrew model in the right picture. They are on sale on Thursdays and Saturdays here at the Solana Center for $40.