Compost Demonstration

A compost demonstration on a local Central Coast avocado farm

Compost Demonstration

A compost demonstration on a local Central Coast avocado farm

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The issue

Many farming practices used in the horticulture industry have negative impacts on soil health including loss of soil carbon, soil structure and loss of soil biological activity. 

Using compost can help to increase soil carbon, soil structure and soil biological health at the same time as utilizing waste products.

The solution

The Central Coast Sustainable Farming Program has been running a compost demonstration on a local avocado farm in Kulnura.

The objective of the demonstration was to increase local knowledge of using locally available compost on avocados.  The compost was surface-applied under the avocado trees at two different rates.  A third treatment was included to allow growers to compare the more common approach of using surface-applied hard-wood chip.  There was also a control treatment.

The impact

The demonstration was monitored using soil testing and a set of soil physical assessment processes including:

  1. Penetrometer readings (to measure soil strength/compaction)
  2. Macro organism diversity count
  3. Root development assessment
  4. Soil structure assessment
  5. Earthworm count

Yield was assessed prior to harvest by counting avocados on each tree and photographic monitoring was used to assess changes in tree size.

The outcomes were then recorded and presented at a field day, attended by 20 commercial farmers, home gardeners, local suppliers and other professionals.

While the outcomes of the demonstration were mixed with no robust conclusions, much was learnt at the field day via on-ground observation, the grower, a local supplier of basalt dust, and general knowledge sharing within the group.  There was also strong interest in learning the soil-health monitoring techniques used in the demonstration.

Key facts

  • The field day was attended by 20 commercial growers, home gardeners and professionals
  • There were no clear outcomes from the demonstration
  • Participants in the field day learnt a great deal through observation and knowledge sharing between everyone present

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