Throughout the 20th century chemical fertilisers have been used to increase and maintain production, however they cannot replace the loss of organic carbon in the soil, are increasingly expensive and, ultimately, deplete soil nutrient levels.
What compost provides to farms:
- Both the nutrients and organic carbon necessary to rehabilitate degraded soils and to support production in intensive farming systems.
- Reduce the need for irrigation water.
- Reduce chemical fertilisers.
- Increase production, particularly where soils are already degraded by many years of farming.
- Increase overall soil quality.
- Save money.
Some farmers make their own compost using straw, manures, recycled organics and other readily available agricultural waste or local by-products of food processing. They manage the composting process using readily available farm machinery and apply the compost to their own land. Others however are purchasing specially designed machines called ‘windrow turners’ and monitoring equipment so they can gain greater control of the composting process and produce high quality composts called ‘humic’ composts.
On-farm composting is well suited for rural and semi-rural areas where this concept is able to deliver significant benefits for waste management, the environment, the community and farmers.
In Australia, on-farm composting is still in its infancy but is gaining momentum. Potential offsets of the carbon tax may be available in the future.
Originally posted on compostweek.com.au