The introduction of fertilisers and pesticides has enabled modern farming methods to produce yields far in excess of what would have previously been thought possible. However this has come at a price, particularly for the quality of soil. With the application of inorganic fertilisers, concentrations of organic matter have been steadily decreasing.
When our food waste is landfilled or incinerated organic matter concentrations are reduced. The amount and type of organic matter in soil influences its physical, chemical and biological properties. This can have serious consequences:
- Structural instability
- Erosion and compaction
- Cultivation difficulties
- Decreased water retention
- Increased frequency of both flood and drought
- Nutrient insufficiency.
By treating and stabilising uncontaminated organic waste through anaerobic digestion and re-applying it to the land in a carefully controlled manner, these problems can be rectified and avoided.
Concentrations of organic matter in agricultural top soils: England and Wales: 1979-1981 and 1995 1