Learn how compost made from fish waste can help with sustainable food production

A Seagull picking at fish waste on a wooden pier

New compost, made from 100 per cent recycled organic material has been designed to help tackle climate change

  • 22 October 2021
  • 3 min read

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have helped to produce a sustainable and peat-free compost from agricultural and fisheries waste for growing tomatoes, strawberries and other greenhouse crops.

The new compost, made from 100 per cent recycled organic material has been designed to reduce carbon emissions associated with food production to help tackle climate change.

It has been developed as part of the Horti-BlueC project, of which the University is a partner, to increase the use of circular economy solutions in the coastal areas of England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The project received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. In addition, the Province of Antwerp, Province of East-Flanders, and Province of North Holland co-fund the research. 

A greenhouse trial is currently being carried out replacing rockwool and a large part of the peat from the growing substrate with chitin to improve fruit yield, improve crop health and antioxidant activity.

Edward Collins, Horti-BlueC funded PhD researcher

The aim of the project is to replace non-renewable horticultural resources (chemical fertilisers, pesticides and growing media such as peat, coir or rockwool) with local and renewable agriculture, food and fisheries waste. This waste can then be turned into bio-energy, biochar (charcoal that is used as a soil amendment which can hold carbon in soil for hundreds to thousands of years) and a biodegradable material called chitin to use as soil substrates and fertilisers.

Horti-BlueC funded PhD researcher Edward Collins from the University of Portsmouth, is using shrimp-derived chitin in the compost to improve the growth and health of strawberry and tomato plants. He said: “A greenhouse trial is currently being carried out replacing rockwool and a large part of the peat from the growing substrate with chitin to improve fruit yield, improve crop health and antioxidant activity. Although this trial is ongoing, preliminary data indicate no negative effects to the growth of the plants as a result of the chitin amendments, and a suggested increase in antioxidant activity”.

Although this trial is ongoing, preliminary data indicate no negative effects to the growth of the plants as a result of the chitin amendments, and a suggested increase in antioxidant activity

Edward Collins, Horti-BlueC funded PhD researcher

The new growing media substrates will be showcased as part of the Portsmouth Climate Festival at a free event on Wednesday 27 October from 11am to 4pm at Southsea Castle.

This family-oriented event will offer an opportunity to find out about the project results and listen to short talks from University of Portsmouth researchers on topics such as the health benefits of tomatoes and consumer attitudes to 'green' labelling.

Visitors will be able to participate in hands-on citizen science activities, sample tomato-based snacks and check out a giant tomato root in virtual reality.

Please book your place in advance at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/horti-bluec-tomatoes-strawberries-and-sustainable-food-production-tickets-178550518407?aff=ebdsoporgprofile