Give back to the earth during composting week

21 April 2012

To most people, muck is, well, just muck. But to a farmer it’s the lifeblood of the land and all that lives off it.

And a green recycling company that is helping to enrich Devon’s soil for growers is going to use International Compost Awareness Week (May 6-12) to encourage the public to ‘give back to the land’.

Devon Waste Management Ltd has for years been ensuring green waste from Devon’s gardens is converted into a soil conditioner for local farmland.

Over 30 farms are now using recycled cuttings to create green compost for fertilising their fields. With the help of  Devon Waste Management Ltd, around 33,000 tonnes of green compost will be created this year for those farms, with more wanting to sign up to the scheme as a more sustainable alternative to sewage sludge or chemical fertilisers.

“We have farmers in Kingsteignton, Tavistock, Torrington, Exeter, Honiton, and Crediton signed up to our farm composting scheme and we are in the process of setting up a local composting scheme near Kingsbridge,” said Chris Pope, Operations Manager for Devon Waste Management Ltd’s composting division.

“That trip to the recycling centre at a weekend with the garden cuttings really does make a big difference to the fertility of our land and the more green waste we get to compost on farms, the more we can give back to the land.”

Farms work with Devon Waste Management Ltd to create the compost on a field site, under an agreed planning consent. Garden waste from Recycling Centres is shredded before being taken to the farm where it is composted for 12 weeks before the company tests it for nutrients and the farmer then spreads it to feed the crops. Successive dry years have put more stress on the land but farmers report that crops planted with green compost do better in drought conditions than crops grown without.

“We need people to keep bringing their clean garden waste to us if we are to keep building on the work we are doing in partnership with farms to improve the soil our food grows in,” said Chris. “For the land to feed us we need to feed the land and green compost does this in a really natural and environmentally-friendly way.

“Farmland needs organic matter and we are giving back to the land what has grown on the land. Our organic compost is far less intrusive to residents than sewage sludge and a lot more beneficial to the local environment and wildlife than chemical fertilisers.

“So if you are planning to get out your lawn mower or secateurs any time soon, then please, if you can’t compost for your own use, spare a thought for a local farm and take it to your nearest recycling centre. Remove any plastics bags, plant pots or other non-plant materials and we will ensure 100 percent of green garden waste goes to local farms growing the food we eat.”

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