We help to recycle 35000t of garden waste per year

Every year we help Devon residents to recycle 35,000t of garden waste brought to Recycling Centres. Your garden waste is used to provide nutrients to farms in Devon that grow food for local and national shops.  

At the Recycling Centres our staff monitors the garden waste area to remove any plastic bags or other non biodegradable material from the compostable waste. We do see a surprising range of accidental contributions such as dog toys and tennis and golf balls, but also garden things that we can’t compost such as plant pots, plastic bags, plant ties and labels.  We remove all these by hand to ensure a good quality compost product.

The waste is then transported to one of our 5 preparation sites where it is again checked for non biodegradable waste and then shredded using our £250,000 state of the art high speed shredder. The shredder reduces the garden waste to a fine mix of material less than 40mm.

Shredded garden waste is then loaded into tractor and trailers for transport to one of our partner On-farm composting sites. We work with 20 farmers on up to 45 fields to make compost to provide nutrients and organic matter for land growing food crops.

The health and well being of soil can be maintained by the addition of organic matter. A healthy soil will hold more moisture in dry conditions and encourage microbial and earthworm activity which is essential to promoting healthy crops. The compost provides the main nutrients required by food crops such as Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphate and Magnesium as well as other essential elements.

Just think of it as vitamins for plants! Plants need these nutrients to grow and in turn they pass them to us when we consume food because we need these nutrients too.

The compost is made over three or four months by regular turning. This turning ensures that all parts of the compost has good oxygen supply, for the microbes doing the work, distributes moisture and ensures the compost reaches a good temperature. A temperature of 65 Celsius for 7 days will kill off any weed seeds or pathogens that may be present. Temperature is monitored regularly to ensure these requirements are met.

When the compost is made it is ready to be spread to land to be used for food production. We work with the farmer to understand what crops he wants to plant and we then assess their nutrient requirements, test the soil to see what nutrients are already provided, test the compost to see what nutrients it contains and then calculate how much compost is required on the land to feed the crop. This can be between 15 tonnes per hectare for quite rich soils to 40 tonnes per hectare for poor or depleted soils or high demand crops.

Regular application of compost brings long term benefits to the soil and is particularly prized by organic farmers with whom we work closely, including local box vegetable schemes Riverford Organics, Shillingford Organics, Linscombe Farm and Rod & Bens.  Some other farms we work with supply local shops with potatoes, through to supplying national supermarkets with vegetable oils.


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