Can you compost hop plants?
Composting spent hops, which are nitrogen-rich and very healthy for the soil, really isn’t all that different from composting any other green material. In fact, composting is one of the best uses for spent hops.
For the vines and biodegradable string left over post-harvest, this also can be blended and turned into compost and put back into your soils.
Repurpose hop waste into compost
Compost is a known source of nutrients for soils and is a great way to increase yield for commercial growers.
Making compost in bulk requires a lot of time, machinery and expertise to ensure all elements such as nitrogen content, pH levels and carbon content are correct. So while this option may not provide enough compost to service your hops farm, it is a great way to sustainably repurpose your waste while also providing your hop plants and soil with the necessary organic matter to thrive.
In order to repurpose hop waste into compost from the leftover vines and string, it is recommended you blend it with sawdust or green waste compost. Doing so will dilute the waste, loosen up the biodegradable string to aid with decomposition and balance out the nitrogen and carbon levels.
We recommend blending from the beginning to speed up the process, allowing the blended products to work their way into the waste, breaking down the string and vines which creates more consistency.
The process to repurpose vine waste into compost involves decomposition and requires the pile to be turned multiple times. This allows the compost pile to rise in temperature evenly so the centre won't overcook.
If you would like to repurpose your post-harvest waste into compost, get in touch with the team to discuss the chemical levels you’re looking for, your blending options and advice on turning your compost.
Alternative repurposing options
Another alternative to blending with the vines directly would be to burn the vines first and then add the ash to a compost blend. This provides nitrogen-rich nutrients that can benefit your plants.
If you have access to a grinder you can also grind up your vines to create a mulch that acts as a weed suppressant as well as retaining moisture for your hop plants.
Making compost in bulk
Making compost in bulk involves an intensive process of blending, turning, heating, and cooking to break down the raw materials to be utilised as a great resource for your soil.
Compost needs the perfect combination of nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen to create the microbe activity necessary to make compost. To get these to work as they should, the materials need to be combined, turned, and heated to a certain temperature to cook the raw materials for the desired outcome.
Azwood offers a green waste dumping service in which the green waste is ground down, blended with other wood residues and repurposed into a green waste compost. This compost is Biogro certified and used widely in Nelson Tasman and Marlborough for horticulturists looking to improve their soil health. This process creates a circular economy in which other's waste is repurposed and NZ growers can benefit from a soil conditioner that increases soil and plant health.
**Unfortunately Azwood do not offer a dumping service for vine waste that has string through it.
The benefits of applying compost to your soil
Compost naturally supplies a significant amount of nutrient value to your soil and crops.
Bear in mind that you will not always see immediate results as compost does not release its nutrients all at once. It takes time to work its way into the soil and release.
You’ll get significant value and nutrients over a longer period of time rather than using a soluble fertiliser which is more instant but does not benefit your soil or crop long term. Applying compost to your hop farm is a long-term investment to add nutrients back into your soil that were taken away through years of harvesting.
What is the difference between mulch vs compost?
Although both are utilised in horticulture and landscaping, mulch and compost have very different and distinct functions.
- Case study
Mac Hops made the switch to wood fuel as a sustainable alternative to coal
Looking for a sustainable way to fuel their drying process, Mac hops made the switch to wood energy to dry their hops.