Agronomic, Soil Quality and Environmental Consequences of Using Compost in Vegetable Production

  • Simon M. EldridgeEmail author
  • K. Yin Chan
  • Nerida J. Donovan
Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB, volume 3)


This chapter summarises many of the findings from a long term compost vegetable field experiment at Camden in south western Sydney, Australia. Large applications of garden organics compost resulted in significant improvements to soil quality (physical, chemical and biological) compared to farmer practice. These included soil structural stability, soil carbon, cation exchange capacity, pH and microbial biomass carbon. However, conventional tillage with the rotary hoe eroded away these improvements over time by accelerating the loss of soil carbon and pulverising the soil structure. The compost treatment matched the farmer practice treatment in terms of crop yield for all crops, and exceeded it for some crops. The compost treatment was found to be an economic alternative to farmer practice in the Sydney basin, with additional environmental benefits. Targeted applications of compost and minimum tillage may help optimise benefits. A repeat application of compost resulted in a more significant and sustained response in the soil biology.


Soil quality Soil health Food security 



The long term compost-vegetable field trial at the Centre for Recycled Organics in Agriculture (CROA) was a joint research and development project of NSW Department of Primary Industries (2005–2013), with collaboration and funding support from NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) (2005–2008), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) (2008–2012) and Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL) (2010–2013). Technical assistance provided by Darren Fahey, Lynette Muirhead, Fadi Saleh, Ildiko Meszaros, and Brett Enman is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon M. Eldridge
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Yin Chan
    • 2
  • Nerida J. Donovan
    • 3
  1. 1.Wollongbar Primary Industries InstituteNSW Department of Primary IndustriesWollongbarAustralia
  2. 2.Formerly NSW Department of Primary IndustriesRichmondAustralia
  3. 3.Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural InstituteNSW Department of Primary IndustriesMenangleAustralia

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