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Chan K.Y.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Fahey D.J.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Newell M.,Industry and Investment NSW | Barchia I.,Industry and Investment NSW
International Journal of Fruit Science | Year: 2010

Despite interests among Australian vineyard managers, the effects of using mulch as a management tool have not been adequately quantified. This article reports results of a three-year field trial using composted mulch over six vineyards in central NSW, Australia. Yield increases (~1 t/ha) from mulch were found only in the low yielding areas and under a high mulch rate (153 m3/ha). Mulch also significantly increased berry potassium and pH. The yield increases were attributed to improved soil water and soil temperature conditions of the mulched soil. The research provides better guidelines for mulch use and demonstrates the potential of reducing spatial variability of yield in vineyards. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Chan K.Y.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Fahey D.J.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Fahey D.J.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
Soil Research | Year: 2011

Oversupply of potassium (K) to grape vines can result in high grape berry K and pH, leading to difficulty in wine making and low wine quality. There is concern that application of mulch to grape vines may increase K supply and the associated risks. The effect of composted mulch from green wastes was investigated in a field trial involving six vineyards in New South Wales on soils commonly used for viticulture production in Australia, over three seasons (200608). Significant increases in extractable soil K were detected as a result of mulch application. Higher berry K and pH were also observed due to the mulch treatments, with the changes dependent on season and mulch rate. Increases in berry K were significantly related to the higher soil exchangeable K. The mean increase in berry K due to a mulch rate of 153m3/ha was 123mg/kg. The mean increase in berry pH was 0.02 units observed in two seasons. Application of mulch can increase berry K and pH, but the changes are small compared with variations observed among vineyard sites and between seasons. © CSIRO 2011.

Chan K.Y.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Orr L.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Fahey D.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Dorahy C.G.,PMB 8 | Dorahy C.G.,Ableblue Pty Ltd.
Compost Science and Utilization | Year: 2011

Little research has been carried out on the agronomic and economic value of compost produced from garden organics for vegetable production. A field experiment was established in Camden, near Sydney, Australia (i) to evaluate the effect of the compost on vegetable production (ii) and to evaluate the economic returns from using compost in vegetable production. A total of five vegetable crops were grown and the results indicated that a once only application of compost at an agronomic rate of nitrogen (125 t/ha) produced similar or higher vegetable yields than that of current farmers practice. For four of the five crops grown, yield was similar, and for one of the crops (capsicum), compost treatment yielded 21% higher than that of the farmers' practice. In addition to soil health benefits, using compost at this rate also resulted in considerable saving of chemical fertilisers. Over the period of the experimental trial, there was a 36% saving in urea as well as 100% saving in P and K fertilisers. For the Mixed treatment (compost at half rate and supplemented by chemical fertilisers), vegetable yield was similar to that of the farmers' practice for the first four crops but this declined to only 64% of that of the farmers' practice for the final crop of leek. Benefit cost analyses showed that for the vegetable compost trial, application of compost provided a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1 after five vegetable crops, indicating that this practice was very close to breaking even. On the other hand, BCR of Mix treatment (compost at half rate and supplemented by inorganic fertiliser) was negative due to significant yield decline after growing four crops.

Chan K.Y.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Wells T.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Fahey D.,Center for Recycled Organics in Agriculture | Fahey D.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | And 3 more authors.
Australian Journal of Soil Research | Year: 2010

Vegetable production is often located in the peri-urban areas close to large cities. In Sydney, Australia, excessive levels of phosphorus (P) have been reported in the soils, and vegetable farms have long been regarded as a potential source of the P that enters Sydney's waterways. We report vegetable production under varying soil P conditions and the consequent changes in soil P, as well as water quality of runoff and leachate after growing 5 crops in a field trial where inputs in the form of garden organic compost were compared to current farmers' practice. No difference in vegetable yield was observed between 100 and 400mg/kg of soil Colwell P (0-0.10m); therefore, our results indicate that the excessive soil P levels in the vegetable farms around Sydney are not important for optimal vegetable production. Results from runoff and leachate studies clearly demonstrate that high concentrations of P in soils used for vegetable production under the current farming practice around Sydney have increased the potential to export P and to negatively affect water quality of receiving environments. The significant increases in soluble P concentrations found in the soil and runoff water from the current farming practice can be attributed to the use of poultry litter. In contrast, using compost in place of poultry litter resulted in significantly reduced soil P accumulation and P concentration in runoff and leachate. Training and education programs for farmers and their advisors are recommended to encourage more sustainable fertiliser management practices and reduce the accumulation of P in the environment. © CSIRO 2010.

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