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Effects of composting manures and other organic wastes on soil processes and pest and disease interactions

Litterick, Audrey; Harrier, L.; Wallace, P.; Watson, C. A. and Wood, M. (2003) Effects of composting manures and other organic wastes on soil processes and pest and disease interactions. Scottish Agricultural College.

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Online at: http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/More.asp?I=OF0313

Summary

Introduction
Composts and manures are of major importance in providing fertility in organic farming systems, since synthetic fertilisers are prohibited. It is understood that composts have radically different nutrient release characteristics to those of uncomposted materials and manures, and it is believed that composting increases the beneficial effects of organic materials on soil health, soil quality, soil fertility and nutrient use efficiency. It has also been shown that some plant pests and diseases are suppressed through the application of composts and compost extracts to soils. There is considerable potential to use a wider range of feedstocks from on and off-farm sources and to improve the composting process and compost/manure application techniques. This review of scientific work to date was urgently required to help determine key research priorities to achieve this potential (Defra project OF0313).
Project aims
1.To document the current standards, regulations and legislation relevant to recycling, compost/manure preparation and application and to review common UK practices relating to the preparation and application of uncomposted materials, manures, composts and compost extracts.
2. To review current scientific knowledge (from the literature) of the effects of different composting processes on chemical and biological parameters in the finished compost or compost extract.
3. To review (from the literature) the effects of uncomposted materials, manures and composts on soil health and quality, soil fertility and crop development and nutrition.
4. To review (from the literature) the effects of uncomposted materials, manures, composts and compost extracts on pest and disease incidence and severity in agricultural and horticultural crops.
5. To outline a proposed strategy for research which seeks to develop composting systems and compost/manure application protocols with a view to optimising soil fertility management and pest and disease control in organic agriculture and horticulture.
Objective 1 - The current standards, regulations and legislation relevant to recycling, compost/manure preparation and application are documented in detail in the full report on Objective 1 (Appendix 2). Manures and uncomposted plant materials (e.g. green manures) are commonly used on UK organic farms. True composts (defined in the glossary, Appendix 1) are rarely prepared on UK organic farms, although there is increasing interest in their use, particularly on farms producing high value horticultural crops. An increasing number of companies are producing (or are interested in producing) composts suitable for use on organic farms as soil amendments or growing media.
Objective 2 - The effects of different composting processes on chemical and biological parameters in the finished compost or compost extract are reviewed in detail in the full report on Objective 2 (Appendix 3). A short version of this review appears on pages 7-10 of this report.
Objective 3 - The effects of uncomposted materials, manures and composts on soil health and quality, soil fertility and crop development and nutrition are reviewed in detail in the full report on Objective 3 (Appendix 4). A short version of this review appears on pages 10-13 of this report.
Objective 4 - The effects of uncomposted materials, manures, composts and compost extracts on pest and disease incidence and severity in agricultural and horticultural crops are reviewed in detail in the full report on Objective 4 (Appendix 5). A short version of this review appears on pages 13-17 of this report.
Objective 5 - A proposed strategy for research was outlined which seeks to develop composting systems and compost/manure application protocols with a view to optimising soil fertility management and pest/disease control in organic agriculture/horticulture
Organic farming systems are by nature holistic. In other words, they function as a whole and all aspects of the system are interdependent on many other aspects of the system. It is essential therefore that research which is carried out to optimise the use of uncomposted plant residues, composts, manures and compost extracts is interdisciplinary; that is it must be carried out with reference to the organic farming system as a whole and not just a single aspect of it.
Technology transfer and knowledge transfer are key elements to the proposed strategy for research. Seminars and conferences, farm walks, demonstration farms and a wide range of publishing formats must be used to ensure that end users have full access to the results of research carried out in the UK and abroad. The amount of information which is available for dissemination to those who wish to make or use composts will naturally depend on the amount of relevant research and development work which is going on in the UK, Europe and worldwide.


EPrint Type:Report
Type of Facility:Other
Other Type:n/a
Keywords:crops, peer review, soil, composting, pests, diseases, technology transfer, OF0313
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop health, quality, protection
Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Research affiliation: UK > Other organizations
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
UK > Scottish Agricultural College (SAC)
Related Links:http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/research/agrienvnews12.pdf, http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/project_data/More.asp?I=OF0313
Project ID:OF0313 and CTE0203
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:6694
Deposited On:31 Mar 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:32
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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