One of the most important quality indicators for desertification is the low soil organic matter (SOM) of degraded fields, and actions to combat desertification and degradation of agricultural soils often aim to increase SOM level. Increasing the SOM in agricultural fields directly increases their water storage capacity, creates a healthy habitat for beneficial soil bacteria and other biodiversity, captures carbon and makes the soils more resilient for withstanding climate change.
However, in Cyprus a striking discrepancy is perceived between the need to increase SOM so as to improve fertility and combat desertification on the one side, and the utilisation of waste biomass, such as park and garden cuttings and prunings, food waste etc., which could be used as soil additives. Diverting these materials from landfill and using them for compost and integration into soil, mitigates climate change by reducing methane production from landfill, reducing the carbon footprint of municipal organic waste management and capturing carbon in the soil.
This action aims to develop the compost market by demonstrating the effectiveness of compost use in soil, and, by providing protocols for compost production and application to soil, it aims to increase acceptance by farmers. In parallel, the project outcome will indicate to policy makers what essential elements would be necessary in order to replicate this system in other areas across Cyprus facing similar challenges of green waste management and soil degradation.