UK Compost Safety

Updated: 12/03/2010

Growers who use compost can feel doubly confident about its benefits after research commissioned by the UK Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) showed that compost poses no health risks to humans, animals or the environment.

The independent study, work on which started two years ago, showed that even when compost was applied to cropped land at what is considered to be its “maximum” rate – 50 tonnes per hectare of green composts and 45t/ha of green/food composts – no risks were identified.

Commercial composting

Three independent risk assessments were therefore carried out by Cranfield University’s Centre for Resource Management & Efficiency, with help from the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and ADAS.

The first assessment looked at the risk green compost posed to arable crops and livestock while the second looked at the risk posed by food waste-based compost to livestock.

Both assessments showed that both types of compost were safe to use on arable crops and livestock grazing land.

The third assessment examined the risks of applying compost to cropped land. No risks were identified even though a wide range of cropping scenarios was considered.

Tompkins said: “We are extremely pleased with the results, particularly as we estimate that there will be around 500kt of green/food composts available for use in agriculture and horticulture by 2015 (up from 250kt today).” He added: “We would like to see more growers take advantage of the benefits of compost.”

Source: Rachel Sixsmith,
Horticulture Week – 12 March 2010

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