Home' Grower : October 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- October 2011
Compost is good for the resident and
applied populations of beneficial bacteria
and fungi because they provide a food
source and favourable soil conditions.
Withdrawal can leave soils
gasping for an organic hit
By KAYLEE MAITLAND
SOMETIMES growers using compost
wonder if they are really getting any
It can be an expensive input and pressures
on production can mean there is little time for
applying compost between crops.
Domenic Cavallaro, of Stoller Australia, said
he had been working with one Virginia grow-
er who did not realise the full benefits he was
getting from applying compost - until he
stopped using it.
"Growing in sandy soil and planting back to
back crops, the grower was struggling to see
the benefits of compost and he was also run-
ning out of time to apply it," Domenic said.
The lettuce and broccoli grower had been
using composted animal manure and green
organics on his paddocks for a number of
years. He had also successfully been using
what growers commonly refer to as 'biologi-
cals': beneficial bacteria and fungi for control
of rhizoctonia and sclerotinia.
Increased pressures on production and the
time needed to apply compost meant that he
decided to stop using compost two years ago.
"The grower had a few bad years in a row
and something had to give. He decided to
stop using compost while still applying the
'biologicals' and it was only then that he start-
ed to understand the real benefits," Domenic
"He started to have more problems with
rhizoctonia and sclerotinia at the end of the
season, when previously these diseases had
been managed well by the biologicals.
"The biologicals were no longer able to
effectively manage the diseases for the dura-
tion of the crop."
The grower knew that compost could
increase soil organic matter and organic car-
bon and improve soil structure but had not
realised the role that compost was playing in
Compost is good for both the resident and
applied populations of beneficial bacteria and
fungi because they provide a food source and
favourable soil conditions.
Adding compost to the soil improves soil
health and structure which increases the num-
ber and diversity of beneficial bacteria and
fungi already in the soil.
The organic matter in compost also provides
a food source for the biologicals that growers
are applying for disease management.
Before this experience, he understood many
of the benefits of compost, but Domenic said
the grower probably had not realised the full
extent of what compost was doing for his
crops. "He's using compost again now and
we're certain that we'll see an improvement in
the effectiveness of the biologicals he
applies," Domenic said.
"He knows that compost is a long term
management tool. He's lost some time so it
will take a while to build up organic matter
levels again." Next time something has to
give, it won't be compost.
Details: Compost for Soils 08 7329 0422 or
Increased pressures on production
Biologicals control rhizoctonia, sclero-
Grower decides to start using compost
AT A GLANCE
NEW research is being launched into a simple
technology to help beekeepers manage the
devastating bee pest Varroa mite, if and when it
arrives on Australian shores. A study aimed at
measuring the impact of screened bottom boards on
beehive health and productivity is being undertaken
during the next 12 months by the NSW Department
of Primary Industries, led by honeybee specialist
Doug Somerville. A simple wire screen, rather than a
solid base, on the hive has the ability to separate
mites from the colony when they drop off the bees.
The research is being funded by the Pollination
Program, a research partnership between the Rural
Industries Research and Development Corporation,
Horticulture Australia Limited and the Australian
CITRUS Australia's 2011 National Conference will be
held in the Barossa from October 23-26. It is being 'a
must' for all those involved in the industry. The Wolf
Blass Function Centre, in the heart of the renowned
wine region, will provide an excellent opportunity for
all participants to meet and network with the citrus
community, engage in workshops and gain an insight
into the most current and cutting edge technologies.
Local food producer, author, media personality and
culinary icon Maggie Beers has been confirmed as
one of the diverse range of keynote speakers, along
with David Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Food
Marketing at Imperial College London. David travels
the world talking to businesses, trade associations,
governments and conferences.
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