Composting Research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) (2009)

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With berry season starting and tree fruits also on the way soon, it is a good time to highlight some composting research Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists are doing to support farmers in the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan. Their research is going far beyond the backyard basics, looking at how to use composts as organic soil amendments that improve crop production in farming operations.

Dr. Tom Forge and Dr. Gerry Neilsen of AAFC’s Agassiz and Summerland Research Centres, respectively, are studying how to effectively use composts on high-value crops such as wine grapes, apples, sweet cherries and blueberries. Their research aims to help growers understand the costs and benefits of using compost in orchards and vineyards.

Both are studying municipal composts as well as composted animal manures, measuring the effects of composts on soil quality and crop nutrition and productivity. They are also examining how compost mulches can promote stronger root systems and help plants resist diseases.

Using composts as soil amendments and mulches in horticulture supports the regional recycling of nutrients and reduces the use of synthetic fertilizers. As compost breaks down in the soil, it provides the fertilizer nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in forms that are readily available to plants. Compost also provides a wide range of important micronutrients not found in commercial fertilizers.

For more information on AAFC compost research in BC, please contact:
Dr. Tom Forge, Research Scientist, Agassiz (604) 796-1727
Dr. Gerry Neilsen, Research Scientist, Summerland (250) 494-6377
Sarah Godin, Regional Communications Officer (604) 666-3679

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