Compost tea, anyone?

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‘It’s about time to explore the versatility of compost’

By Katherine Doyle
BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Have you ever wondered what you could do with your compost? That there might be alternate uses for what lies inside your green bin?

Dr. Lord Abbey is an assistant professor with Dal AC’s Department of Plant and Animal Science. Among other things, he’s researching how useful compost can be and trying to find new and better ways to use it in agriculture. Submitted photo 
Dr. Lord Abbey is an assistant professor with Dal AC’s Department of Plant and Animal Science. Among other things, he’s researching how useful compost can be and trying to find new and better ways to use it in agriculture. Submitted photo
Dr. Lord Abbey, an assistant professor with the Department of Plant and Animal Science, is investigating just that.

“As a teenager who grew up in a city, the source of my food had always been a mystery to me,” Abbey said. “I wanted to do medicine but I was curious about the work of nature and the wisdom of our farmers. As a result, I decided to pursue agriculture, obtaining a bachelor of science in agriculture in Ghana.”

Composting and compost use has been on his radar for quite a while now.

“It’s about time to explore the versatility of compost and its derivatives in other ways for its further promotion and value-addition, and to open up new research and business opportunities,” he explained.

He believes this will boost consumer confidence and offers a chance for producers to make a bit more money while safeguarding the environment.

Compost is used in a variety of fields and specialties including agriculture, horticulture and even for erosion control. Abbey is researching just how useful compost can be and is trying to find new and better ways to use it in agriculture.

His work includes the impact of drying and ionizing radiation effects on compost and plant response and compost tea formulation for flower and foliage vase-life extension.

Compost tea is exactly what it sounds like – compost is used and sits in water in something like a tea bag to attempt to get all of the nutrients out of it and the ‘tea’ is then used to fertilize plants. This tea will be tested to see if it will lengthen the life span of grazing crops, also known as “forages.”

In addition to this, Abbey is working on an agro-economic assessment of the long-term application of green bin compost. This involves looking at how putting green bin compost in the soil will affect how productive the plant will grow and impact on soil health over an extended period of time.

“The goal of my research is to develop a sustainable, horticultural production system based on integrated and efficient crop management strategies and a food system approach to crop diversification,” added Abbey.

Tea anyone?

Katherine Doyle is a third year public relations student spending her co-op work term at the Faculty of Agriculture.

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