ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Know of any good compost turners?

Posted April 13, 2006

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Click here to send it to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

We are a small family farm (750 acres) in southern Indiana. We raise Angus cattle and have a small feed store. To supplement income (and keep us out of trouble) we have started marketing/manufacturing soy lotions/soaps. This summer we plan on removal of the old grain bins at the feed mill. My brainstorm is to utilize the concrete pads for storage of compost. We have a staff person who is interested in making a compost product. Of course, we have manure and a local supply of products from the saw mills.

My concern is having the most efficient compost turner. We have manure spreaders and hay rakes, however we need to research turners. Any suggestions? If you are interested, our web site is:

Richard Culler


Dear Richard,

Thanks for the email and the questions on compost turners. It sounds like you folks have a busy schedule with all the enterprises you have going. There are several manufactures of compost turners out there and I can't really say which is best. We used a Wildcat type design to make a homemade model here on our farm. Ours is 16 feet long and will take a windrow about 6 to 7 feet tall. It is self propelled and easily transported. I can share photos of it if you'd like. If you plan on producing a premium product for resale you'll definitely want a turner, a screen and possibly even a bagger. We've seen the demand in small bags to be tremendous.

You might want to check out Biocycle magazine ( This trade journal is an excellent up-to-date source of information about composting and equipment suppliers.

Hope this helps,