Research carried out in Manchester suggests that home-produced composts can provide nutrient-rich growing material that rivals industrial-scale production.

A Manchester Metropolitan University team researched compost produced from green and food waste to establish its quality in comparison to large-scale manufacture. The team found that small-scale home and community-produced composts were a high-quality plant growth medium rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, decomposing bacteria and fungi, as well as being home to a large range of microscopic animals such as beetles and mites. Marcos Vázquez, a former Manchester Met student and lead author, said: “We were very pleased to learn from the detailed physical, chemical and microbiological testing that our low-maintenance local composters are producing safe, high-quality nutrient-rich composts.”

The collaborative research was established to inform the ecological and environmental association of Galiza, North-West Spain about the quality of mature compost from local community and university canteen composting programmes. Marcos spent three months at Manchester Met as a PhD scholarship student from the University of A Coruña, Galiza, Spain. He has since been working as an anaerobic digestion process engineer at Viridor, Stockport. Dr Robin Sen, Reader in Soil Microbial Ecology and Biotechnology at Manchester Met, said: “Local composting makes a significant contribution to safe cropping in degraded or contaminated soils and can critically replace endangered Sphagnum peat moss-based composts.”