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Essex salad grower pioneers green compost project

A salad grower based near Colchester is pioneering an innovative project to encourage farmers to use green waste compost on their crops.

Holly Tree Nurseries owner Gordon Spurjin, grows salad and other crops and supplies them to major supermarkets. He has volunteered to participate in a field-scale project to demonstrate the benefits of using compost made from green waste on salad crop production.

The project is one of two being carried out by Remade East, an East of England Development Agency-funded organisation dedicated to developing markets for recycled materials.

According to Remade East, scientific trials have shown that compost significantly improves the water-holding capacity of soil, a feature which is of particular benefit for salad and vegetable crops.

Organics programme manager Ben Dyson said: Theres been quite a lot of research into using compost in agriculture generally, but little into the benefits of compost on high-value agricultural or horticultural crops such as salads.

Spurjin said: We attended a Remade East workshop earlier this year on the benefits of compost and were impressed with what we saw. The potential benefits in terms of yields, soil quality and crop quality have got to be a good thing for farming and horticulture in general.

Dyson added: The broad aim is to demonstrate that compost made from green waste can add value to farming and commercial horticulture. By the end of the demonstration, we hope to have measurable results, as well as anecdotal evidence, showing that using compost has definite advantages in producing higher value crops such as salads and potatoes.

At the end of the trial, the selection of salads will be analysed to detect any improvement in quality. Gauges have also been installed to measure the composts ability to increase the soils water holding capacity.

Remade East chairman Councillor Roger Walters said: We hope these trials will further demonstrate that using green waste compost is a safe, beneficial and cost-effective method of soil improvement. As such it can bring significant benefits to the agricultural sector, the largest industry in the East of England.

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