Is Quality Compost Always Black?
Is there actually a way to make compost in a commercial setting so that it doesn't go anaerobic? Is high quality finished compost always black in color? If not, is the end-product simply dark brown?
Here is the background on my question...
I continue to read what I can on making quality compost for garden use and compost tea. Right or wrong, I have developed this preconceived notion that well-made finished compost takes on a rich, dark black color. This has been confirmed (even though my finished compost fails to ever attain this "dark black" color) by the appearance of a couple of good locally available bagged products, including what I see coming out of our local biosolids composting facility (no, I do not use this for compost tea).
I recently pulled the following book off my shelf to reread - "Adding Biology - For Soil and Hydroponic Systems." A wonderful book that is
small, concise, and easy to understand. However, there is a strong point made about finished compost that has begun to make me question my preconceived thoughts. It states that black compost is not the result of a successful composting process, but instead is due to a period of anaerobic activity.
It is stated that due to anaerobic conditions, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are produced which leaves a black residue in the compost. The "blackness" explains many questions that I have had about this whole issue of finished composts. It explains why some of the bagged compost that I have purchased has the light smell of ammonia. It also explains why the biosolid composting facility "smells" of ammonia when I drive by it.
I don't have the science to back me up but it is hard for me to believe that the center of an active windrow, or static pile, doesn't run out of oxygen and go anaerobic within hours of turning. If it doesn't show, I struggle with the basic fundamentals of compost production whether it be massive static piles, windrows, or simply 8 to 10 yard piles like mine. I do want to learn and understand the details. I look forward to anyone's response.