Climate-friendly practices applied: Composting
Composting is part of “optimized on-farm nutrient recycling”, one of the four climate-friendly practices applied on the SOLMACC farms. Composting has a millennia-old tradition in house gardening but has not yet been widely applied on commercial farms. The positive climate effects expected are e.g. reduced emission of greenhouse gases (especially methane) and reduced input of mineral fertilisers.
Read about how SOLMACC farmers in Germany, Italy and Sweden implement this practice and which challenges some of them are facing.
© Gut Krauscha: Turning of the compost piles
Since the Pfänder-Hof is managed without livestock the clover-gras-mixture isn’t put in the feeding trough but in the compost instead. This was a conscious decision against the usual popular mulching of clover grass for a more efficient and more climate-friendly usage. As a farm with vegetable cultivation the waste from vegetable processing, straw and earth from the carrots cleaning is composted as well.
Mr. Mautschke from Gut Krauscha is currently facing the challenge to continue to use the 120 hectares of grassland on his farm despite the decrease in livestock. The composting of cut grass produces a valuable fertilizer and soil improver, which contributes significantly to a closed nutrient cycle on the farm.
Composting of green waste, which comes partly from land conservation programs, represents a particular challenge. For this reason, Mr Mautschke experimentes with various admixtures of e.g. manure as well as covers of the compost heaps. With the aim to establish the fitting compost management for his farm soon.
The SOLMACC farmer Kjell Sjelin from Hånsta Östergärde developed a unique method of composting in the soil. What makes his technique innovative is that the farm animals are kept outside during winter but with access to open sheds with straw bedding. Straw is added daily, when the height reaches 40-50 cm the shed is moved and new bedding is started. Since the outdoor temperatures are low during winter biological activity is minimal. When spring comes the beddings are spread and instantly incorporated into the soil followed by planting of spring cereals. This system for manure management is energy efficient with very low emissions from both storage and spreading.
The Fontantabona Farm is optimising their on-farm nutrient management by composting bovine manure mixed with residues from local organic mushroom production. The farmer makes several small piles covered with hay, on the side of the pile he makes some holes to air, if needed. The composition of the compost is equilibrated in term of manure and fibre content and it has a maturation of around one year as the compost pile is used always in the summer. The composting is regularly integrated in the farming system after the cycle of the leaf vegetables, when crop residues are integrated in the soil together with the compost and then a mixed green manure is sown. The green manure helps the decomposition of hay and other residues not completely decomposed during the maturation phase. The fertilization derived from the compost is really good for the crops, and it support the three crop cycles in sequence. However there is a need to control the level of organic matter and the farmer is looking for a machinery to buy together with other local farmers with the aim of guarantee a regular turning of manure piles.
Azienda Agricola Mannucci Droandi
The Aldovrandi farm in Tuscany produces wine and olive oil. Thanks to SOLMACC they decided to introduce composting in their farming system, which is a particular challenge in an hilly land. For this reason they got a specific machinery to cut their shoots, on a land covered with grass. The area to introduce the practice of composting wine residues has been identified, next to the vineyards, however it could need to be isolated from the soil using concrete if required by the local health authority. The compost turning will be done with a mechanical shovel and the possibility to wet the pile during the dry season in the summer is foreseen. Everything is ready! This year, right after the pruning, the first cycle of composting will start.