As a business practice, we have always recycled all debris via local brush recycling company. However, with the purchase of a tub grinder, now we recycle our own brush. Recycling our brush in house will allow us to offer more competitive pricing for our services that require mulch. And we’ll get better quality control over the mulch product.
Creating useable mulch is a little more involved that just running it through the machine. We actually have to “cook” the mulch. When brush is first ground into mulch, the resultant material must go through a process where microbes colonize the material and begin the composting process. To facilitate this we have to maintain a certain moisture level in the piles and let them sit for several months. During that time, the piles must be periodically turned, just like you would turn compost. Only difference is we have to use a large loader instead of a shovel ;).
Our Vermeer HG-525 will handle up to a 30″ diameter log and chew it up into small mulch chips just like what you buy in bags at your local garden center. The machine is technically a horizontal grinder, not a tub grinder, but the end result is the same. To accompany the grinder, we also got a Yanmar excavator which makes feeding the machine very efficient.
The next step in our mission to fully utilize our debris is to acquire a saw mill. Many of the dead trees we remove are very old. The large trunk pieces we harvest have taken the tree over 100 years to grow in some cases. It seems a waste to turn 100 years of work into mulch and compost. A saw mill will allow us to make interesting slabs of wood for artists and some lumber that we can use in various construction projects on our facility.
Ultimately, I think it’s time we stop thinking of our brush as debris or waste and start thinking of it as a resource.