Recycling Council of Alberta Launches Province’s First On-Farm Composting Guide for Farmers

July 26, 2021 – The Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) is pleased to announce the release of An Introductory Guide to On-Farm Composting for farmers, ranchers and landowners interested in learning more about the opportunities they have to build processing capacity for organics generated by municipalities and businesses. This project aims to connect urban and rural communities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by organic waste while building soil health.

Composting is the process by which materials biodegrade through the action of naturally occurring microorganisms. The resulting compost is used as a soil amendment to provide organic matter and nutrients for soil. The Guide follows a case study of Central Alberta’s Stickland Farms that has been processing food scraps and biosolids into nutrient-rich compost for its fields.

“We have traditionally looked at composting as a solution to a waste management problem. That approach is fraught with issues because we need a place for the resulting materials to go. Through this project, we looked at compost as a resource and where it is best used – on farms. Compost improves the soil and is a valuable resource for farmers,” remarks the RCA’s Executive Director, Christina Seidel.

“Composting is the ultimate example of a circular economy in a natural system,” adds Christina. “The materials such as food scraps and yard waste generated in our communities can return to the soils to provide value to the environment.”

There are approximately 2.2 million tonnes of organic waste sent to landfills each year by Canadians (Love Food Hate Waste, 2019). If Albertans diverted their food scraps to be composted, there would be an estimated 238 thousand tonnes of CO2 emission savings annually — the equivalent of taking 52 thousand passenger vehicles off the road each year.

The Guide establishes basic information about setting up an on-farm composting operation, including the regulations to follow, and processes for managing organics. By applying compost, farmers can reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers, increase crop yields, and improve overall soil quality.

“Organic matter is extremely important to the health of our soils,” shares John Paul of Transform Compost Systems, a key consultant on the project. “There are nutrient benefits along with the life compost creates within our soils. Compost balances pH, increases water retention and adds disease resistance through the formation of a healthy community of microbes.”

As part of the launch, the RCA has shared the Guide on its website and plans to host two webinars titled “Introduction to On-Farm Composting” and “Alberta On-Farm Composting Operators”. These are free webinars and groups from all communities are invited to attend. The RCA has also launched a podcast with more details about the project and the overall benefits of compost. Learn more today!

This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.