GHGMP News Releases

New wave of composting research yields promising results

Indian Head, Sask. October 26, 2004

Unique composting projects on two of Canada's coasts show tremendous potential as innovative ways of improving nutrient management and crop fertility.

Compost made from a blend of poultry manure, crab shells and offal is helping a Newfoundland vegetable producer produce high-yielding, high quality product for his provincial market. On the other side of the country, a composting project that uses a growing supply of poultry manure and yard wastes is showing that the finished compost can be an important nutrient source for organic crop producers in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.

Both composting projects are from a series of demonstration projects funded in part by the federal Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture (GHGMP). Regional reports for these projects can be found on the recently revamped Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) Web site at: www.soilcc.ca.

The compost blend used in the Newfoundland project consisted of approximately 30 percent crab offal and 70 percent poultry or stable manure. It was applied to vegetable crops, such as rutabaga and cabbage, in the spring. Results showed the blended compost used in the Newfoundland project can reduce reliance on more expensive commercial fertilizers, while still producing high quality crops.

"Over the next couple of years the demonstration emphasis will be on fine-tuning application rates and looking at the economics of composting," says Ann Marie Whelan, field co-ordinator for the GHGMP in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The overall objective of the B.C. project was to minimize the social and environmental impact of the province's extensive poultry industry by preventing over-application of manure nutrients while maintaining sustainable crop production systems. As part of the project, composted yard trimmings from the City of Vancouver were partially incorporated into the poultry manure. The end product - a blended compost - proved to be an ideal nutrient source for organic growers, in particular, because the high temperatures generated in the composting process kill pathogens and other undesirable elements in the compost material.

"Finding creative ways to handle livestock manure is critical for B.C. producers," says Dr. Art Bomke, a soil scientist and associate professor agroecology at the University of British Columbia. "We have quite an excess of nutrients in this region. As a result, we have to develop sustainable techniques that use what we can here and then export the rest." Although their composting system is producing a good product now, it can be improved, he adds.

The GHGMP supports a broad range of projects across Canada with the goal to promote awareness of agricultural practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SCCC administers the delivery of the soil and nutrient management sector component of the program. For more information on activities, visit the SCCC's Web site at www.soilcc.ca.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Art Bomke
University of British Columbia
Phone: (604) 822-6534

Ann Marie Whalen
GHGMP Field Co-ordinator in Newfoundland and Labrador
Phone: (709) 747-1378

Doug McKell, Executive Director
Soil Conservation Council of Canada
Indian Head, Sask.
Phone: (306) 695-4212