Compost made from kitchen scraps and garden waste can increase the production of farmers' crops and reduce their need for conventional fertilisers, trials by Plant and Food Research show.
Plant and Food scientist Abie Horrocks says researchers have found that compost used with fertiliser increased the production of arable crops by up to 14%, and forage crops by much more.
"The preliminary findings that we were getting from the South Canterbury forage trials showed us that there were some really remarkable yields and improvements to be had from using the compost.
"We were getting around fifty percent increases in the forage yields - and it wasn't just in the year the compost was applied - those yield improvements continued for two to three years after those one-off applications."
Ms Horrocks says about 726,000 tonnes of garden and kitchen waste is buried in landfills throughout New Zealand each year, but it could be put to a much better use.
Research suggests that farms close to populated areas, where municipal composting facilities could be developed, would benefit most from using compost, she says.