The power of compost: Making waste a climate champion

by University of Queensland
The research has been published in Nature Food.

A study co-led by The University of Queensland suggests that implementing a Precision Compost Strategy (PCS) in agriculture could significantly enhance global crop production and benefit the environment. Professor Susanne Schmidt from UQ highlights that PCS, which involves using compost tailored to specific soil and crop needs, can improve soil health, increase water retention, and reduce the reliance on mineral fertilizers.

Currently, about 30% of the world’s agricultural soil is degraded, with this figure potentially rising to 90% by 2050. PCS could potentially increase the annual global production of major cereal crops by 96 million tons, or 4% of the current output, helping to address food shortages and price increases.

The strategy also offers environmental benefits, particularly in combating climate change. In Australia, over 7 million tons of biowaste are sent to landfills annually, producing substantial greenhouse gases. Repurposing this biowaste can restore vital carbon in cropland topsoil and offer economic advantages; diverting 15,000 tons of biowaste could save local councils up to $2-3 million annually.

Tony Rossi, a sugarcane farmer in Far North Queensland, has successfully used precision compost for seven years, reducing fertilizer use and maintaining crop yields. The PCS study, which analyzed over 2,000 instances of compost use in agriculture globally, has been published in Nature Food.

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