Composted Yard Waste as a Replacement for Pine Bark Mulch in Blueberry Production
In the last decade more than nine pounds of solid waste per person were produced in the United States each day As the population increases, solid waste disposal will become more of a concern due to the difficulty of establishing new landfills, the potential for groundwater contamination from unlined landfills and opposition to burning. A partial solution to this problem is to compost high-volume materials like municipal trash and yard trimmings. Composting can be an attractive waste management option, since 30 to 60 percent of municipal solid waste materials can be composted in an environmentally safe manner.
We would like to promote composting and recycling by demonstrating that municipal solid waste, particularly urban plant debris (yard trimmings, etc.) can be used as a mulch and/or soil amendment in blueberry production in place of peat moss and pine bark. Successful blueberry production in Florida requires the addition of organic matter to the soil as well as application of mulch to the soil surface beneath the plants. Peat moss is normally used as the organic mater soil amendment and pine bark is used as the mulch. Using composted urban plant debris would eliminate the need for these materials, decreasing the need to mine peat or buy pine bark.
Urban plant debris is usually made available to agricultural producers in a non-composted state. Therefore, another goal of this project is to demonstrate how to successfully accomplish on-farm composting of this material. We will accept the material from urban counties, compost it on our farm, apply it to our blueberry plants in place of peat or pine bark, and observe how the plants grow and produce.