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Growers get first glimpse of new compost trial crop

MORE than 30 growers and industry representatives were treated to a glimpse of the second Next Generation compost trial crop at the Sydney demonstration farm on Friday.

The joint initiative of Greater Sydney Local Land Services, NSW Farmers and the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology is aimed at realising the potential for recycled organics to boost crop yields and reduce input costs in horticulture.

The field day also gave growers the chance to hear the early findings from the second capsicum crops that had received compost, poultry and manure or chemical fertilisers.

Research plant nutritionist Dr Geoff Cresswell said the study is showing even low rates of compost can benefit plant and soil health as well as minimise the impact of fertilisers on the environment.

“Crops grown in compost treated soil have stronger, healthier root systems which should make them more resistant to environmental stresses and improve water and fertiliser use efficiency.” he said.

Dr Cresswell said there was also clear evidence the biological health of soils can be improved with compost.

“Soil testing has shown compost stimulates the activity of a broad range of beneficial organisms in the root zone soil. It is a type of probiotic for plants. These groups of organisms are known to increase the solubility of essential nutrients and help plants find and absorb them. Other organisms stimulated by compost are known to suppress pathogens in the soil and to increase plant resistance to drought and to diseases.”

“These trials have provided evidence that leaching of nutrients into ground water is reduced by compost. This not only minimises the environmental impact of farming but could also result in lower fertiliser costs to the grower.”

Greater Sydney Land Services Manager Bill Dixon said the full findings of the monitoring would be showcased in the New Year.

“This is a key project as part of our ongoing work to support a more productive and sustainable agriculture industry not just in the Sydney basin but throughout NSW and we do that by consulting directly with local growers and bringing government and industry together,” he said.

The $460,000 Next Generation Compost project is funded through the NSW EPA Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

ENDS

Media contact: Nikki McGrath (02) 4724 2138 M: 0448 953 755