Next Gen Compost Trial
Creating demand for recycled organics in horticulture
Working to support growers for a profitable and sustainable horticulture industry
Greater Sydney Local Land Services is working in collaboration with NSW Farmers and the Institute for Sustainable Futures to build demand for compost produced from recycled organics in vegetable production.
Adding compost to soil is seen to deliver a range of benefits including improved soil structure, improved water infiltration and soil water-holding capacity, increased soil biological activity, efficiencies in nutrient use and moderating extreme soil temperatures. However, barriers to greater uptake of recycled organics include cost compared to alternatives, confusion as to whether compost is a fertiliser or soil conditioner, and yields compared to other soil treatments.
Images: (Left to Right) Greater Sydney Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer Peter Conasch, comparing root development in crops grown in compost (left) and chicken manure (right). NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee’s visit to the Sydney Demonstration Farm in Richmond.
The project includes
Demonstrating the benefits of using recycled organic compost in vegetable production
Comparative trials have been conducted at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Demonstration Farm comparing different levels of compost (with and without added nutrients), inorganic fertiliser and chicken manure. Monitoring included tissue testing, soil water balance, soil microbial activity and nutrient use and loss.
Based on the trials, a recommended compost blend will be demonstrated in Spring 2016 on two private farms in the Central Tablelands, two private farms in the Sydney Basin and an additional crop at the Demonstration Farm.
The Institute for Sustainable Futures is conducting surveys, focus groups and structured interviews to better understand growers’ needs, priorities, and preferences regarding the use of recycled organics and to investigate consumer attitudes to build demand for vegetables produced with compost based on environmental benefits.
NSW Farmers are delivering a communications campaign on the outcomes of the trials and social research. With their expertise in use of social media, the “aginnovators” website and direct engagement through videos, factsheets and seminars, NSW Farmers are engaging different community sectors including the compost producers, farmers and consumers to drive demand for compost use in vegetable farming.
The project is funded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Organics Market Development Grants under Waste Less Recycle More. This program aims to expand the NSW market for recycled organics by an additional 70,000 tonnes by June 2017.
Images: (Left to Right) Greater Sydney Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer Peter Conasch, with scientific consultant Geoff Cresswell. Comparative trial plots with differing soil treatments. Sydney growers attending a compost field day. Geoff Cresswell demonstrating soil solute samplers.