Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair today visited a demonstration site at Richmond to see the latest developments in compost research which could revolutionise the use of recycled organics in horticulture.
Minister Blair said the $460,000 Next Generation Compost project is a joint initiative of Greater Sydney Local Land Services, NSW Farmers and the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney.
“The aim of the Next Generation Compost initiative is to realise the potential for recycled organics in horticulture and provide new opportunities for the $1 billion horticulture industry,” Mr Blair said.
“This means better understanding the barriers that are limiting the use of recycled organics and determining how best to overcome them.”
As part of the project, scientific trials have been established on the Greater Sydney Local Land Services demonstration farm located near Richmond.
The trials involve:
- comparing the crop yield and quality that result from using fresh and augmented AS445-2012- compliant compost (given the same cost and nutrient inputs)
- comparing the efficiency with which the trial plants use fertiliser with and without compost
- monitoring for evidence of improved soil condition outcomes
On completion of the trials, two growers in the Sydney Basin will be supplied with a suitable “”next gen” compost at a subsidised rate to act as demonstration sites to promote compost use to other producers. The Greater Sydney Local Land Services demonstration site uses newly installed infrastructure to quantify benefits in water use and the quality of produce.
Member for Hawkesbury Dominic Perrottet said that the project is a win for the region.
“This is a great initiative and it demonstrates the type of innovation NSW Government is fostering across the economy including in the agriculture sector. Hawkesbury residents can be proud that initiatives coming from Next Generations Compost in Richmond will help vegetable farmers and other landholders right across our state,” said Mr Perrottet.
David Eyre, General Manager Reseach and Development at NSW Farmers, said that NSW Farmers hopes to see organics routinely returned to soil on farms round Sydney instead of going to landfill.
“Compost is great for growing vegies and for soil health but, despite its benefits, has not been seen as cost-competitive by growers. A key barrier is the sometimes variable nutrient value of compost products which in turn means that they have been spread at higher and, therefore, more costly rates to ensure reliable yields. To address this, the project team is working with growers and recyclers to help develop consistent, nutritionally boosted “next gen” composts that deliver the results growers require at the right price point.” David Eyre said.
The program is funded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority under its Waste Less Recycle More Organics Market Development Grant Program. The project includes the scientific, social research and communications elements necessary to clarify the factors surrounding the compost supply chain and to build awareness and demand.