Europe, UK, Ireland

British potato grower improves yields and soil quality significantly with green waste compost

Tony Bambridge is increasing his potato yields and improving his light Norfolk soils by the use of green waste compost, which is especially important in this summer’s dry weather. Potato yields are about 6-7% ahead since he started applying the compost six years ago, while his soils are more resilient, water retentive and workable. The compost has helped build the indices of key nutrients, such as phosphate and potash, and increase organic matter levels in his sandy soils by 0.5%, which were typically 1.5-2.5% before compost was applied. “We are feeding the crop the natural way, creating a sponge to absorb water, adding organic matter to improve soil biology, helping the workability of soils and making them more resilient,” he says. 

Marc Allison, senior researcher at Niab, says a trial last year on Mr Bambridge’s farm showed potatoes using compost gave a tuber yield of 77.7t/ha and without compost a significantly lower figure of 72t/ha. “What we are seeing is that the compost is changing the physical properties of the soil, improving rooting and water uptake and also nutrient availability,” Dr Allison says. Read more