Its amazing that no matter how long I have been involved with composting and soils, I am always learning!
This past year, I learned more about our world supply of phosphorus, and how it contains heavy metals and radionuclides. This provides all the more reason why we should be recycling our organic material, and returning it back to our farm land.
I learned about our world’s increasing concern with antibiotic resistance on human health, and the contributing role of anti-microbials in agriculture. We should be promoting manure management that reduces risks of antimicrobial resistance entering our environment.
I learned that an increasing number of fruit and vegetable buyers will be ensuring that only properly made compost is used, to ensure that the products meet International Good Agriculture Practice guidelines (GAP).
I learned that many of our communities are excited to divert organics from landfill, but we still need to work hard at recycling this organic material back to the soil for local healthy food production.
I am seeing that although we can increase our organics diversion by separating the organics from our garbage in Material Recovery Facilities, it remains very difficult to process and clean this organic material so that it can be used as a soil amendment.
I have learned that although there continues to be some excitement for anaerobic digestion, the economics are still not working very well for most facilities once the initial excitement of receiving the grants and public funding has passed.
I had the opportunity to visit communities in Canada’s north, including Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Simpson, Whitehorse and Haines Junction. I love their passion for recycling and their initiatives to grow food locally.
We have updated our Compost Facility Operator Manual this year, and are reprinting it. We also enjoyed teaching more than 100 participants in the Compost Facility Operator Courses held this year in Abbotsford, Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Simpson.
We also had the priviledge of assisting the CFIA and our local poultry industry in processing birds, eggs, feed and litter on a number of farms in the Fraser Valley following another Avian Flu incident.
This year marks the International Year of Soils, as well as the 30th anniversary of my decision to become a soil scientist. I am excited about what I will learn in 2015!