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Farmers use compost to improve soil health

News release
03 May 2021

Posted 03 May 2021.

The theme for this year’s International compost awareness week from 2-8 May is Better Soil, Better Life, Better Future. The week of activities promotes and encourages the importance of compost, a valuable organic resource and its use, knowledge and products.

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Zoe Starkey said by composting organic material instead of sending it to landfill, we can help fight carbon pollution and help build healthier soils.

“Recently, compost industry representatives and farmers from the Murraylands and Riverland region came together at a field day to learn about the benefits of using compost in broad acre farming systems,” Mrs Starkey said.

“At the field day, participants were able to see demonstrations and discuss how compost can be used as a tool in managing vulnerable non-wetting sands. This is a condition in lower rainfall farming environments where sandy soils repel water rather than allowing infiltration.

“The participants looked at various types of compost such as granular, pellet and mushroom and their ability to improve soil structure, increase the soil’s water and nutrient holding capacity, and increase crop growth and yield.

Mrs Starkey said since the recent dry times, many sandy soils across the region are lacking soil stability and are at risk of wind erosion.

“Composts provide an option to improve substance by adding soil organic matter while also adding nutrients and improving water infiltration and efficiency,” she said.

Participants also discussed using compost to increase soil organic carbon in low rainfall broad acre cropping farming systems. In these situations, composts, crop residues, manures, bio-solids, and other related products are essential to achieve an increase.

Diverting organic materials from landfill and composting them helps to reduce methane emissions, a significant greenhouse gas.

This benefits climate change through increased plant growth and carbon sequestration in soil and the flow-on effects of improved soil health and water holding capacity following their application.

The Australian Organic Recycling Association (AORA) hosted the field day at Peat Soils composting facility in Brinkley.

Mrs Starkey said groups such as the AORA are working with industry bodies to share the benefits of compost across all agricultural sectors by hosting practical days such as these.

This field day was supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and landscape levies.

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Media and Communications Project Officer