Automated GNSS-based data and process management for composting facilities

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

In Austria, commercial composting is regulated by the Compost Regulation. In composting plants, the material to be processed is piled up in windrows and regularly turned by means of compost turners during the rotting process.

Each windrow must be precisely documented in order to be able to prove from which basic material the compost was made. In addition, the Austrian Compost Regulation requires that the temperature of the windrows is measured and documented daily.

This extensive measuring and documentation process, which is currently carried out manually, involves a considerable amount of work.

Contents and goals

The project ANDREA project (Automated GNSS-based data and process management for composting plants) aims at developing a concept for an automated management system for composting that reduces the measurement and documentation effort for compost producers.

In the project, the temperature measurements that are required by the Compost Regulation shall be carried out directly by a compost turner and georeferenced by means of GNSS-based trajectory determination. The measurements will then be mapped in a management system for composting, which should give compost producers a better overview of the rotting process.


The innovative content can be presented for several aspects of the project. On the one hand, a new measuring concept has to be designed which allows temperature measurements of the compost directly at the compost turner during the turning process. In order to automate the processes in the best possible way, an innovative navigation module will be further developed for the compost turner.

This module will calculate complex routes and steer the compost turner along the precalculated routes. The degree of autonomy is to be increased by adding obstacle detection to the GNSS-based positioning module.

In addition, imaging sensors for operation at night will be investigated, so that the battery-operated compost turner can be charged with solar power during the day, in order to be able to carry out measurements as autonomously as possible at night. For an innovative traceability of the compost, its mixing before and after the compost turning process will be investigated in detail using the coupled Discrete Element Method and displayed in the data management system.

Expected results

As a result, it should be shown to what extent the documentation effort resulting from the regulations of the Compost Regulation can be reduced by automated, GNSS-supported procedures. By means of a clearly structured data management system, compost producers are to be given a better overview of the rotting process and thus be able to increase efficiency at composting plants. This can help to reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gases such as methane.

Project Partners


Sonnenerde GmbH

Project partner

  • Institute for Geodesy, Graz University of Technology
  • Institute for Logistics and Material Flow Technology, University of Magdeburg
  • Institute for Technical Logistics, Graz University of Technology
  • Pusch & Schinnerl GmbH

Contact Address

Sonnenerde GmbH
DI Dominik Dunst
Oberwarterstraße 100
A-7422 Riedlingsdorf