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Is compost the fertiliser of the future?

​The objective of the project was to contrast the effects on pasture performance of compost and superphosphate.  Soil concentrations of phosphorus and sulphur were increased by the use of superphosphate but addition of compost did not alter the level of these nutrients from untreated control plots.  Concentrations of fungi and bacteria did not increase in response to compost. Pasture production did not respond to fertiliser application until the third year of the trial when favourable seasonal conditions supported an almost doubling of pasture growth.  Taken together over the five year period of the trial, herbage production from superphosphate, compost and untreated control plots was 20.2, 16.2 and 14.4 t DM/ha respectively.  In addition to effects on pasture production, pasture grown from superphosphate treatments contained higher levels of crude protein, metabolisable energy, magnesium, phosphorus and sulphur. Extra pasture was most cost-effectively produced with superphosphate and the least cost was $51/tonne.  At this cost, the extra herbage will be profitable for a farm business. This project has demonstrated that pasture production and quality responded to superphosphate which provided plant limiting nutrients but did not respond to a product which did not provide adequate levels of these nutrients (i.e. compost).

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This page was last updated on 21/07/2017

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