Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published November 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Fish compost ready for sale

Mother Nature’s massive fish kill last winter at Dickinson’s Patterson Lake has recently yielded some positive results for gardeners and green thumbs alike.

By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press

Mother Nature’s massive fish kill last winter at Dickinson’s Patterson Lake has recently yielded some positive results for gardeners and green thumbs alike.

While the City of Dickinson routinely produces compost to be sold, this year’s batch included hundreds of fish that perished last winter, producing a higher quality end result.

“What makes this particular compost so good is that the most important part of the soil is what’s alive in the soil, not so much the nutrients,” said Jared Andrist, Dakota West RC&D coordinator. “The compost has a substantial number of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes.”

The microorganisms work together to break down plant matter when it dies and recycle the nutrients in the soil, making it available for plant growth, Andrist said.

The microorganisms also take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available in the soil for the plants to grow.

Ron Bachmeier, a Dickinson senior public works specialist, said the compost is comprised of yard waste, garden waste, leaves, grass, wood chips and fish.

For sale at $15 per ton, the average pickup will haul about a ton, said Bachmeier.

About one-tenth of what the city is processing for compost is ready for sale, said Aaron Praus, senior public works specialist.

The compost can be purchased at the Baler Building, located in southeast Dickinson, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Depending on business, the Baler Building may also sell for the next two Saturdays.

Bachmeier said weather, a tornado and a fire at the building have delayed preparation of the compost.

“This is all we are making this fall … there is too much moisture after all this rain we’ve had,” Bachmeier said.

Andrist said compost application is best in spring, but many of the microorganisms will survive the winter.

Microorganisms in the soil create nutrients needed to make plants grow, Andrist said.

“You can’t continue to add nutrients to the soil forever and grow plants or crops or a garden,” Andrist said. “If you can get that live part in balance to where it’s healthy and it’s active, it will create the nutrients that you need.”

One teaspoon of healthy soil or compost contains more microorganisms than there are people on earth, Andrist said.

Andrist said samples from last April’s compost were good, but low in fungi.

“The fish actually brought those fungi numbers up quite a bit, to where they are quite high and everything looks very nice,” Andrist said. “The fish actually create the food for those fungi to multiply and to produce.”

Tags: