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807/226 Compost in Agriculture

Publication Date: 
24 August 2011
Author/Contact :
Phil Wallace

Contractor :
Enviros Ltd

Full Research Project Title: Compost in agriculture
Duration: September 2001 - December 2006

Aim: To investigate the effects of compost, both instead of and in combination with fertiliser, on crops and soil structure. 

This work began as a three year project, funded by landfill tax credits from EB Nationwide and supported by the AHDB Potatoes, with the research being carried out by Enviros in collaboration with Envirofield, Reading University and IACR-Rothamsted. In 2005, extension of the project, involving sponsorship from AHDB Potatoes, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds and AHDB Horticulture was agreed.

Properly composted plant remains should pose no threat at all to the soil, crops or the environment and, used wisely, can be of benefit in terms of nutrient supply, soil structure and water holding capacity, soil workablity and fertility. Green compost is made from botanical wastes such as hedge and shrub prunings and grass clippings from gardens collected at civic amenity sites. The materials are clean and free from contamination and can be safely used in agriculture,  but what is the compost worth to a farmer?

The results suggest that compost alone does not provide sufficient nitrogen to replace fertiliser, but that compost applied in combination with reduced rates of inorganic or farm standard fertiliser can actually increase yields above farm standard nitrogen alone.


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