the land gardeners

We began trialling the aerobic composting method in September 2015 and have since then tried various of both inputs and inoculants. At times we have had up to 10  3m piles. We have found it a fascinating journey because, as with nature, you can’t control it and no two piles are ever the same.

There have been times when we have been racing down at 8am in the morning to turn the pile – sure there are serotonin enzymes coming off the piles. Also the size of the windrow is manageable and we feel that it is not too daunting to turn – unlike a huge compost pile. Also whilst it is often difficult to do the first couple of turns, it then becomes much easier as it decomposes. We also find it a good thing to do with two or three of you working down the pile together.

Determining the right balance of nitrogen and carbon is important. While the nitrogen heats the pile up quickly (fresh greens) you need the carbon to give the pile sustained heat.  There are times when we have had to reboot the windrows by adding nitrogen in the form of fresh lawn cuttings or a slurry of fresh farm manure.

We are lucky enough to have been supported by Innovative Farmers and particularly by Dr Dominic Amos and Dr Jasmine Black who helped us set up trials for our compost, growing sweet peas in our Land Gardeners Controlled Aerobic Compost and also in Klasmann compost.

We also provided our innovative trialists from around the world with individual recipes for composting based on the materials they had available to them.  We were particularly keen to test the method in different contexts (varying materials available for composting, different climates, large scale and mircroscale farming) to produce compost with the ability to form the highest quality humus and transfer this humifying ability to agricultural soils, to re-establish the ability of soils to detoxify, hold nutrients and carbon and supply all substances needed by plants.

Our Results:

We discovered that the Controlled Aerobic Composting Method produced the following encouraging results:

 

Crop Results Summary (Wardington, Summer 2018) x 2

Sweet Pea Plant Height

K=Organic bought compost, LG = Land Gardeners “Controlled Aerobic Compost”, C= Control (not compost)

On the 18th May, plants growing in the Organic bought compost plot were on average 2% shorter than the plants growing in the control plot. The plants growing in the LG compost plot were 36% taller.

This result suggests the LG compost may be better at helping plants to establish and grow quicker than the organic bought compost, possibly due to more readily available crop nutrients (See compost analysis)

On the 11th June, plants growing in the Organic bought compost plot were on average 15% taller than the plants growing in the control plot. The plants growing in the LG compost plot were 22% taller. Coefficient of Variation (Ratio of standard deviation to mean) at this assessment date for each treatment shows LG heights less variable (19%) than the organic bought compost(29%) or the Control (40%)

By the 20th of July, plants growing in the Organic bought compost plot were on average 12% taller than the plants growing in the control plot. The plants growing in the LG compost plot were 33% taller. Coefficient of Variation at this assessment date for each treatment shows LG heights less variable (19%) than the organic bought compost (29%) or the Control (36%)

Results suggest that the LG compost may be effective in increasing final crop height compared to no treatment and also in comparison to the organic bought compost.

sweet pea flower length

Average flower length as measure on 20th July 2018. Error bars show SEM. Each Average made up of 2 flower lengths per plant and approximately 12 plants per plot.

Results suggest that LG compost may be used to increase flower length. Average observed flower length for plants grown in the LG compost 47% longer than plants grown in the control. Flowers of plants grown in the Organic Bought compost 30% longer than the control.

In the photo below the flowers grown in the Land Gardeners compost (on the far right hand side) were longer than those grown in the organic bought compost (on the left hand side) and those grown with no compost (central).

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Above tests instigated by Dominic Amos of The Organic Research Centre:

 “shows that the LG compost should basically act like rocket fuel for the crops! Pretty high octane stuff!” email from Dominic, 3rd August 2018 attaching above test results of LG compost.