Welcome to the Michigan SoilWorks CFT Learning Center
**New in 2020**
The Plans for the Michigan SoilWorks CFT are available for purchase!
These are the exact plans our fabricators use to manufacture the commercial-scale vermicomposting systems we ship to our clients.
Congratulations on your interest in continuous flow vermicomposting! At Michigan SoilWorks, we manufacture the Michigan SoilWorks CFT, a precision-engineered, expandable, low-labor worm composting system.
We realize the purchase of an advanced vermicomposting system like a CFT is not taken lightly and we want our clients to be highly educated about a prospective purchase.
So we created this page with articles and videos to help you learn more about CFTs, to include information about their history, their current use, calculations of input and output capacities, frequently asked questions, and what you can expect after you purchase a Michigan SoilWorks CFT.
Experience the Michigan SoilWorks CFT
The Michigan Soilworks CFT is the new standard in medium-to-large scale vermicomposting systems. Precision and durability are at the heart of our design, ensuring your CFT provides 10 years or more of worry-free service. These videos will demonstrate the Michigan SoilWorks’ manufacturer’s motivation and dedication to precision and quality found in this elegant machine. We’d love to hear more about your story and what you’d like to do!
Let’s have a no-sales pitch discussion on what Michigan SoilWorks can help you accomplish!
Watch the Assembly of a Michigan SoilWorks CFT
The Michigan SoilWorks CFT seen in this video is a 16-ft model assembled by Dan Lonowski of Michigan SoilWorks and Steve Churchill of the Urban Worm Company.
Assembly should take two adults roughly 4 hours for a two-module, 16-ft CFT.
See the Cutting Bar Fabrication Process (patent pending)
The cutting bar assembly is the most crucial part of any CFT. Michigan SoilWorks’ cutting bar is precision-milled stainless steel, held to the tightest tolerances and TIG welded for reliable service in the toughest of conditions.
Start with a single 8-ft base unit and grow from there. Add additional modules to increase your capacity when you want. Your initial investment is completely upgradable in the future.
Engineered for performance and durability, using 3D CAD modeling, FEA (finite element analysis), plasma cutting, computer-aided machining, and rigorous field testing. These also ensure compatibility with future modules as you expand your system.
Polypropylene walls – impervious to moisture, will never decay
Corrosion-resistant steel cutting bar, cables and fasteners
Low-friction (HDPE) runner on guide rail
Cutting bar drive system with controller and sensors
Reversible high-torque 110V rectified DC gearmotor
How Do You Calculate Input and Output?
Calculating the input and output of any vermicomposting method depends on variables like climate, the quantity and type of feedstock, and the frequency and method of harvesting, producing a wide range of possible outcomes. CFTs provide a more consistent environment for vermicomposting, and thus we are able to provide our clients more accurate and predictable representations of input and output capacities. To learn more about how the assumptions behind our calculations, please see our Rates and Calculations page.
Business Opportunities with the Michigan SoilWorks CFT
A continuous flow vermicomposting bin is the linchpin of a low-labor, high-efficiency worm composting operation. Businesses of all sizes can leverage CFTs to save money on organic waste removal and fertilizer costs and by selling the worm castings to the expanding organic growing market.
Understand the Space and Climate Needed for Your Michigan SoilWorks CFT
As the centerpiece of your commercial vermicomposting operation, it’s helpful to know how to plan the space around your Michigan SoilWorks CFT as well as learn the climate conditions necessary to achieve maximum vermicomposting efficiency.
How to Rehydrate Peat Moss for Your CFT
Rehydrating a dehydrated product like peat moss can be tedious.
Learn how to prepare this common bedding material for use in your Michigan SoilWorks CFT.
What is the output of a Michigan SoilWorks CFT?
- Single module: 5 cu.ft./week or about 10 yards/year
- Full line (5 modules): 25 cu.ft./week or 48 yards/year
Each 4×8 ft module will produce more than 6 cubic feet of vermicompost per week, or 12 yards per year. Typically, you will screen this harvested material for size and quality. You can expect the screened ‘overs’ to amount to 15 to 20%, which yields 5 cubic feet of finished product per week.
Note: Much of the screened overs can be recycled back to the bin for another trip through, including larger or woody pieces and any worms that came with the harvest. Any rocks or debris should be removed of course.
How much waste material can a Michigan SoilWorks CFT process?
Pre-composted materials like manure may reduce 10% further in the CFT.
- Single module: 5.2 cu.ft./week or about 12 yards/year
- Full line (5 modules): 26.7 cu.ft./week or 58 yards/year
Fresh materials like food scraps with shredded cardboard can reduce up to 50%.
- Single module: 10 cu.ft./week or about 20 yards/year
- Full line (5 modules): 50 cu.ft./week or 96 yards/year
Your additions will equal the amount harvested plus the amount of reduction from decomposition in the CFT.
The amount of reduction will depend on the condition of the material when it is added. This includes the size of the pieces, the type of material, and and the amount of decomposition already started.
What are the sizes of your CFTs?
Michigan SoilWorks CFTs are modular, and each section is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. These can be used individually or assembled together into lines up to 5 modules long (40 feet). Multiple lines are banked together in parallel for larger installations.
How much space do I need around a Michigan SoilWorks CFT?
At each end of the CFT are extensions for the motor drive or hand winch. These are about 18” each.
For access to the motor controls or the hand winches, we recommend a minimum of 5 ft clearance at each end.
If the main work area is along side the CFT, then 8 ft is ideal, allowing for use of long-handled tools. But smaller spaces can still work well by adapting your process to fit the space available.
The back side needs just a minimum of clearance for occasional access.
Can I buy the plans and build this CFT myself?
What kind of worms should I use in my CFT?
What kind of worms should I use in my CFT?
The Continuous Flow system uses a type of earth worm referred to as epigeic. These species tend to live just below the surface and not burrow deeply. The worms listed below are the most appropriate for CFTs. And the species you use can depend upon your climate conditions.
Note: If you are vermicomposting in a climate-controlled environment, you may have more flexibility in selecting your preferred species.
- Eisenia fetida (Red wiggler), along with similar species Eisenia Andrei and Lumbricus rubellus
- Eisenia hortensis (European nightcrawler, sometimes known as ENC’ or Belgians), alt. classification Dendrobaena veneta. NOTE: European nightcrawlers burrow deeper than red wigglers and may escape through the CFT bottom.
- Perionyx excavatus (Malaysian / Indian Blue)
- Eudrilus eugeniae (African nightcrawler, ‘ANC’) Note: African nightcrawlers tend to burrow deeper than red wigglers.
How many worms should I purchase for my Michigan SoilWorks CFT?
We recommend starting with 24 lbs. of worms per module.
With ideal conditions, the population will grow to a density of nearly 2 lbs per square foot within a few months. When the population reaches its peak for the living conditions, it stabilizes and reproduces just to maintain those levels.
A sometimes-used rule of thumb for stocking density is 1/2 lb. per square foot, but this results in a longer time getting the production rate established.
Can I breed worms in a CFT to sell them?
While you would have excellent reproduction rates in your Michigan SoilWorks CFT, these systems are designed for optimum vermicompost production rather than vermiculture.
Typically tray- or pail-based systems are preferred when worms are intended for sale and their castings are just a byproduct.
What is the payback time on a Michigan SoilWorks CFT?
On average, you can expect a 16-month payback period for your CFT investment. This accounts for 20 weeks of startup time followed by your first 10-12 months of sales.
Larger systems have a shorter breakeven period.
Another factor is the price you can get for vermicompost in your market. Product from Michigan SoilWorks CFT’s has the highest quality by biological assays and as a result can justify a premium price compared to other sources.
Also, if you are processing your own waste stream you can avoid waste disposal fees and further improve your return on investment.
Is there financing available for a CFT purchase?
Yes, we can help arrange financing through agricultural equipment financing firms like Farm Credit Leasing Services Corporation and others.
I am located outside of the US or Canada. Can I still purchase a Michigan SoilWorks CFT?
Yes, we can work with you to arrange exporting if your order is 2 or more 5-module CFTs. If you can arrange your own shipping, we will be able to support you with any size.
You will need to retain your own local agent to help you with your country’s logistics, duties and taxation.
We are currently exploring local distribution in Australia and Europe. Note: If you need to import composting worms, you must check with your local customs officials for approved species in your country.
Quick Reference Card
Sometimes it’s handy to have need-to-know information at your fingertips. Feel free to download this handy CFT vermicomposting quick reference card.
The First 20 Weeks with Your Michigan SoilWorks CFT
The First 20 Weeks with Your Michigan SoilWorks CFT
- Assemble the CFT
- Line grating with paper
- Add 8 inches of bedding and 4 inches of feedstock
- Add composting worms at 1/2lb per square foot
First Consultation with Michigan SoilWorks
Filling It Up
Add 2 inches of feedstock per week and water your CFT
Second Consultation with Michigan SoilWorks
Harvesting the Base Layer
- Harvest 1 round trip to remove base bedding
- Recycle bedding material back into bin
- Add 2 inches of feedstock 2 times per week
First Production Harvest!
- Harvest 1 round trip per week
- Add 2 inches of feedstock 2x per week
- Continue harvesting one round trip per week
- Continue adding 2 inches of feedstock 2 times per week
Third Consultation with Michigan SoilWorks
You're Off and Running!
Your Michigan SoilWorks CFT has reached production-level efficiency and will now be producing rich vermicompost for sale or for use in your operation.
Michigan SoilWorks will remain available to answer any questions you may have along the way.