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Will Farmers Pay for Compost?


I just finished a column that will feature in next month’s magazine that will talk about marketing compost in into the agricultural sector. I had some preamble and other text that hit the editing floor so to speak. Not wanting to waste these words I present some of them to you as a kind of “B-side”.
According to Statistics Canada Canadian residents and businesses send about 26 million tonnes of waste to landfill annually. Assuming that 20% are organic wastes it means that just over 5 million tonnes of organic waste go to landfill annually. Furthermore, assuming that about 60% of that is food waste it means that hypothetically about 3 million tonnes of food waste goes to landfill or about 85 kilograms for every Canadian (enough to make every food bank cry).
About 2.5 million tonnes of organics are diverted annually in Canada and in rough terms this equates to about a 33% capture rate. If it was assumed that all of this was composted and for argument’s sake that 50% of incoming feedstocks became compost we produce about 1.25 million tonnes of compost annually or about 35 kilograms for every Canadian.
If we applied it at a modest application rate of just 10 tonnes/hectare we would need only 125,000 hectares to consume all compost produced. If no organic waste was landfilled and it was all composted and applied to agricultural land we would need only 375,000 hectares to consume all compost produced. There are about 70 million hectares of farm land in Canada.
It would seem pretty straightforward. The challenge has been developing the correct approach so that farmers understand the benefits of compost but more importantly that they believe this benefit is worth enough money for them to open up their wallets and buy it.
What do farmers need to buy? What can composters sell and how should they sell it?
Read more in next month’s magazine.


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