Oilseed rape - why compost is good for oilseed rape

Quality compost has significant long-term benefits for farmers growing oilseed rape.

Compost increases the organic matter content in soil and improves soil structure and water management. The application of 30 tonnes per hectare of compost produces 6-8 tonnes of organic matter. Soils only reach their maximum yield potential when their organic matter content reaches a certain level.

Why is compost good for oilseed rape?

  1. Slow-release of nutrients – Compost can be applied ahead of winter and spring crops. Around half of the phosphate released by the compost will be released in the season following application, while the remainder will become available for subsequent crops.
  2. Higher soil fertility – Compost encourages increased biological activity, from micro-organisms to funghi and earthworms which helps improve soil fertility
  3. Fewer pests and diseases – The enhanced biological activity in soils that can result from compost use is known to inhibit some plant diseases
  4. Reduced erosion - Compost provides organic matter, which leads to improved soil structure, reducing the risk of soil erosion from wind or water
  5. Cost savings - Using compost can be up to £10/tonne cheaper than using the equivalent amount of inorganic fertiliser

Case study

In 2004, trials were held on an Essex farm. By adding compost to oilseed rape grown on heavy clay soil, plant establishment improved, as did early growth and yields, compared with rape grown in soil where compost was not applied.