by Todd Dunderdale
When Ray Silene, started as the production supervisor with Magic Valley Compost (MVC) of Jerome, ID, they had nine employees and two worn out compost turners. That was in 2006. A lot has happened since then.
Magic Valley Compost, like many businesses, had created added value for their business by finding a solution to a problem. What MVC had realized was that dairies and feedlots in the Southern Idaho region faced the problem of what to do with all the manure that their cattle produced. MVC knew that by taking the manure and selling it as a nutrient source to the local farmers; they could be part of the solution. However, before the manure could be safely applied to the land, MVC needed to compost the manure.
When Ray came onboard, MVC’s general manager was focused on bagging products and nursery sales rather than improving production. Ray however, had come from an equipment and farming background, focused on production. The company was struggling to produce 40,000 tons of composted material per year but Ray’s efforts were quickly rewarded with the changes he made, as production and product quality increased.
As the company began to streamline, they also started to expand their area of influence geographically. They had an idea to compost the manure on small portions of land where each site was dedicated to windrow composting. Then, they could transport the high quality composted manure to local farms and spread it on the customer’s land. In order to accomplish this however, they first needed turners that were easily transportable. They also were looking for turners that required low levels of maintenance and that were fuel-efficient. Over the years, Ray and his partner Luis Bettencourt, had purchased a number of different turners. With each new unit, the machines gradually got bigger with improved designs for their specific application.
They eventually graduated to the Komptech Topturn X60 windrow turner. This turner allowed less downtime, and lower fuel and wear costs over its predecessors. The X60 also decreased the composting time by creating a higher peaked windrows with much more porosity. This meant the product could get out to market sooner and create revenue faster.
On top of that, “the Komptech turners were much faster” says Ray. That allowed their company to turn more sites in a day. Because they were able to do this, Magic Valley was able to expand their customer base.
Currently MVC has three Komptech turners in their fleet. This includes the all new Topturn X63 that Magic Valley acquired in 2015. The X63 model replaced the X60 model in the Komptech lineup. It incorporates many of the ideas that Ray and his team brought to Komptech in the way of product improvement recommendations.
One major improvement in the development of the X63 was to its power plant. The new X63 uses a 450 HP CAT C13 instead of the 340 HP CAT C9 found in the earlier machines. “The new X63 goes through the windrow twice as fast as the older models, without any loss of quality,” says Ray. This reduces costs dramatically since time is money.
Today, Magic Valley Compost manages 74 compost sites. It has the capacity to produce, screen, haul and spread over 600,000 tons of product that was once viewed as waste. They currently ship compost as far away as 250 miles, providing custom services in four states; Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Utah.
The concept of a sustainable closed loop system is often preached about but rarely obtained. In this case, Magic Valley takes the manure from the cows, composts it and sells it back to the farmers who are growing the hay that eventually goes back to feed the same cows that produce the manure. In the true sense of the word, Magic Valley has created a business that closes the organic loop.
They have also expanded into providing nutrients for a variety of crops, both conventional and organic, along with soil reclamation. Environmentally, Magic Valley Compost is constantly looking for new ways to have a smaller impact on the environment. They do that by upgrading their equipment and composting processes.
Don’t think Komptech or Magic Valley is done yet. Ray Silene recently joined Komptech at their annual sales training in Blackhawk, CO to share his experience with the engineers from the factory. Together, they are working on new ideas to incorporate in his next machine.
Since the beginning, Komptech has worked in partnership with their customers to grow their businesses. In doing so, the machines get better, and the customers’ bottom line increases. Komtpech looks forward to a mutually beneficial, long term relationship with Magic Valley Compost. For more information on the Komptech line of equipment visit www.komptechamericas.com .