Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Kraft Soil Solutions offers clean, green compost

By: Shelley Widhalm | The Surveyor | April 07, 2022 | Business

Like Colorado’s brewers, Mike Parsons and Greg Dabney have their own take on making a local, craft product—but instead of dealing with hops and barley, they’re dealing with compost.

Parsons and Dabney call their business Kraft Soil Solutions with the slogan, “Your Entremanure.” They turn animal and other waste into compost that can be used as a soil amendment, improving its condition and growing ability.

“We can make different soil blends depending on what people’s needs are,” said Parsons, co-owner of the Berthoud business he founded with Dabney in 2020. “We can adjust and add other ingredients to help obtain the results that they want.”

Courtesy photo – Kraft Soil Solutions uses a variety of equipment to make compost at Green Hills Sod Farm that’s individually crafted for the customer.

Kraft Soil Solutions crafts its compost at Green Hills Sod Farm, 1283 County Road 38, in Berthoud, moving there in November 2021 to gain better water access and double the size of its operations.

“They started using our material for their sod at the farm and knew that we were looking for a location, and they offered us a place on their farm to do our composting business,” Parsons said. “The great thing about being on a sod farm is we can stockpile their grass clippings, which we use in the compost.”

The move allowed Parsons and Dabney to add more composting rows, necessary to mix and create their compost. The materials for the compost consist primarily of horse manure, wood shavings and grass clippings, along with a small amount of other ingredients such as steer, goat and sheep manure.

“We are the largest in the state that composts and processes horse manure because we don’t blend this with other animal waste in our main product,” Dabney said, adding that the company is set apart from others by its processing of horse, not dairy manure. “Our product is better because of the stuff that shouldn’t be put in there, because why go backward? Everything we use is reusable and sustainable.”

Dabney and Parsons use a compost turner to break down the horse manure mixture, then water it to establish the right moisture content and temperature. Specific microbes are added to help break down, blend and cure the mixture into the final composted product.

“We’re able to break it down through specific microbes, which allows it to go through a pasteurization process, which starts the curing process, and then with temperature and time, it achieves the cure or stabilization,” Dabney said. “That’s the word people want to know, is it stable, meaning it’s been heated up long enough and the temperature drops enough and it’s cured. Now it smells like fresh farmland and fresh soil.”

The compost turner also helps neutralize the growth of weed seed, Parsons said.

“That’s one thing we’ve had great luck with our product because we sell to organic farmers. A big problem for them is weeds because they can’t use chemical sprays,” Parsons said.

The base compost product can be adjusted to soil type, such as clay in Colorado.

“With our stuff, we can put whatever we need into there to make up for whatever it’s lacking,” Parsons said.

Parsons and Dabney make their product without the use of screening, a process that sifts out rocks, twigs and other extras. The product is completely finished so it won’t burn up plants and other intended growth.

“Our product is so cured people think we have screened the material,” Parsons said. “So far people have said our product looks so good, we don’t need one.”

Parsons and Dabney sell their compost to organic farmers, gardeners, flower growers, greenhouse operators, landscapers and anyone who wants to lay down sod, plant trees, amend their soil or add a top dressing to their lawns to save on water usage. The primary coverage area for the business is Berthoud, Loveland, Longmont and Boulder, and the product can be picked up or delivered by appointment.

Parsons became interested in composting as a way to use the excess waste he collects through his business, Livestock Enterprises LLC, that he founded in 1996 to haul horse manure along the Front Range.

“When I first started, I worked for a place doing their own composting,” Parsons said. “The whole concept of composting has intrigued me, just changing something that’s raw waste back to the natural earth and improving the environment.”

Parsons met Dabney through their wives and realized they both have an interest in the soil-amending business. Dabney, whose background is organic, ranched for several years, manufactured soil conditioners and nutrition programs for soil, and taught internationally about organic certification processes.

Parsons likes that he and Dabney start out with raw waste and then process it, seeing the breakdown, the transformation and the change, he said.

“When you finish, the smell is the beautiful smell of earth and richness and knowing what you put on the ground is earth and soil,” Parsons said.

For more information about Kraft Soil Solutions, visit https://kraftsoilsolutions.com.

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