Long-term benefits of compost when applied to your soils

long-term benefits of compost
long-term benefits of compost

Long-term benefits of compost when applied to your soils

The land we grow on and farm in New Zealand has often been passed down through generations and we are continually needing and asking more from it. We should really view compost as one of the key tools and investments to rebuild the health of our soils and growing environments to be true stewards of the land.

We’re putting more and more synthetic fertilisers into our land and simultaneously asking more from our productivity and outputs. Something has to give and is that organic matter? The thing that is unseen and slowly going away without us even realising?

 

How many years will it be until SOS has another meaning of, Save Our Soils? If we keep using synthetic fertilisation schemes year after year, our plant yield can drop. This may be a direct correlation to the drop in organic matter and carbon content in soils.

 

In the past, compost-based solutions have been provided and sold to horticulture and viticulture industries as a replacement or competitor to synthetic fertilisers. These commercial fertilisers primarily help with weed suppression and moisture retention. They can also typically contain small amounts of specific nutrients based on what growers are looking for. But looking back at these statistics, there is a need to reconsider the vast value and long-term benefits of compost.

Compost: the all-around fertiliser and soil conditioner

Compost helps with weed suppression and moisture retention. Looking at the natural nutrients compost holds, it can be considered an all-around fertiliser and soil conditioner. Most composts naturally contain a range of macro and micronutrients including calcium, magnesium, boron, nitrogen, phosphorous, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium. But more so, the incredible, true value and long-term benefits of compost applied to soils are seen over a two to three year period.

 

There’s an opportunity to change our mindsets on creating healthy soils for our plants to a long-term investment, rather than the need to see instant results and outcomes typically looked for in business.

 

“Will Bakx, a soil scientist for Sonoma Compost in Petaluma, CA, produces high-quality compost from urban yard trimmings. Many vineyard managers who apply compost and mulch after harvest are finding these products to be useful components of their vineyard floor management program. While some vineyard managers purchase these soil amendments, others make their own compost from grape pomace (grape marc). Either way, compost, and mulch are products that result from recycling materials that might otherwise be wasted. Growers and researchers alike are discovering the benefits of these recycled soil amendments.” – Christy Porter, California Integrated Waste Management Board from ‘Compost and Mulch – Investing in vineyard health’

Long-term benefits of compost to build up your organic matter & carbon content in soils

There are immediate benefits seen within a year or growing season from the application of compost and carbon media; like better fruit or plant yield, increased moisture in the soil, and less under-vine weed control. However, after years and years of pillaging soil, the carbon content has deteriorated quite drastically.

 

When the carbon or organic matter in soils deteriorates, it loses the ability to stay healthy and support positive microorganisms and fungi such as mycorrhizal to support the plant’s root structure. It also helps to extract nutrients from synthetic and organic fertilisers.

 

It’s fair to say, globally we’ve neglected the need for carbon content in soils. So with this in mind, it will take a number of years to rebuild this sustainably, in growing environments.

How to repurpose waste to increase your organic matter?

There are other options to build your carbon and organic matter contents in your soils including the use of biochar. This may be effective for small-scale plantings and orchards but the cost can become excessive in large-scale projects. Biochar will have an effect on soil health and carbon although does not add nutrients, weed suppression, or moisture retention benefits.

 

Repurposing grape marc and other fruit marc or processing wastes from the horticultural sector back to the soils can also assist and it is a very low cost to do so. Grape marc can be difficult to spread because the waste doesn’t flow easily by spreading. But if other media are blended with it such as aged sawdust or viticulture bark fines, they can improve the media and make it spreadable. There’s a chance of seed dispersal but usually, the biggest challenge is council regulation permits because of minimal storage timeframes. However, this blending and applying process can be done to regulation by working with a partner like Wholesale Landscapes.

 

Other horticultural wastes such as rejected fruit also have the benefit of being low-cost but with spreadability challenges. Inputs like hop vine waste can make a very good and nutritious compost with great structure and the ability to assist the soil. Adding sawdust or other carbon such as aged bark fines to this waste will help create a consistent flowing product that can easily be applied.

 

Changing this mindset and investing in soil health will aid in a sustainable future for New Zealand growing environments. We’re continually investing in and learning new ways to repurpose natural residues for the health of the soil and for a better environment overall. If you want to join the conversation and learn more about what we’re doing to better the environment as a company, please get in contact.

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Post References

grapes.extension.org
https://agroecology.berkeley.edu/ https://earthandturf.com/
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Our Truck Volumes

3T Truck

Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 7m³
  • Compost: 4m³
  • Supersoil: 3m³
  • Soil: 3m³
  • Shell: 3m³
  • Stone: 1.5m³

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Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 20m³
  • Compost: 10m³
  • Supersoil: 7m³
  • Shell: 8m³

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Full truck load + trailer volumes
  • Bark: 25m³ - 65m³
  • Compost: 17m³ - 38m³
  • Supersoil: 12m³ - 29m³
  • Shell: 12m³ - 30m³

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  • Garden Box – Middleton
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  • Pearsons Landscape Supplies – Bromley
  • Styx Mill Landscape & Nursery  – Styx
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We welcome pick-up of product by the public for volumes 1m³ and over. Please check your estimated trailer weight rating below. If your trailer is unable to hold the weight of our minimum pick-up volume, please book a delivery. *We require a minimum order quantity of 3m³ for any bark, compost, soil or shell products and a minimum order quantity of 1.5m3 for any stones or aggregates.

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Standard trailer
(750kg limit)
  • Bark / Mulches
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Tandem trailer
(1,500kg limit)
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  • Shell
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  • Soil
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(2,000kg limit)
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Recommended depths

Typically you need a finishing layer of screened soil of 100mm when working with an uneven surface. 100mm of soil will allow to even out any hollows and give enough depth to create a flat surface

A general rule for compost is to allow for the depth of the current root structure of your plants with an additional 30-50% to mix in with the base. If you’re planting into holes or filling up a vege garden  you will need to accommodate for this prior to filling up

We recommend 100mm (10cm) deep for new bark gardens and planting into bare areas. For existing gardens with some cover, we recommend 75mm-100mm (7.5cm-10cm)

Note: Barked areas for playground impact protection need to meet NZS5828:2015 standards and is calculated on the fall areas and the height of the playground. Please contact us to discuss your barked playground areas

For paths and driveways which are often exposed to car and foot traffic, we recommend 100mm-125mm (10cm-12.5cm) on newly prepared areas due to settling of product.

This excludes preparation, compaction or drainage gravel underneath. For existing areas 75mm thickness is recommended for areas needing a small top-up.