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Sports fields thrive with compost

Anyone who plays and loves sport now has a great reason to like compost too! Compost helps the soil resist compaction and gives roots better access to water and air.

Anyone who plays and loves sport now has a great reason to like compost too! Compost helps the soil resist compaction and gives roots better access to water and air.

Using compost on sports fields delivers remarkable recreational, environmental and economic outcomes. Dr Paul Lamble from Peak Water Consulting presented on this topic at the AORA conference in June.

Irrigation demand has been increasing since the year 2000 in the New South Wales region of Newcastle due to less rainfall and higher evaporation, Dr Lamble said.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of sporting fields in the lower Hunter are in poor or very poor condition and over three quarters (77%) were receiving low levels of use.

The condition of sporting fields usually depends on soil conditions, not usage.

Building and maintaining sporting fields to best practice means they can handle 50 hours a week or more of use. Compost is one key component in the mix. Best practice sporting fields:

1. Require less water to keep the field functional,
2. Have higher carrying capacity, so the field can handle more players,
3. Have good turf cover with a lush playing surface, often a deep green colour, and
4. Require less maintenance to keep the field in optimum condition.

Sports fields made with compost deliver the best outcomes for local communities.

AgEnviro Solutions Soil and Irrigation Scientist, Dr Mick Battam, produced a series of videos on improving environmental outcomes for sporting fields. Dr Battam said sports fields made with compost offer much better outcomes for local communities compared with sporting fields made with synthetic turf, including:

1. Significant cost savings,
2. Cooling the environment and lowering temperatures on the field,
3. Maintaining soil biodiversity to support local ecosystems, and
4. Drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in soil.


“Australian Standard compost comes from green bins and it’s full of nitrogen and other key nutrients. When it’s mixed into the soil it gives you a slow-release nutrient bank within the soil. And even more importantly, it holds the soil structure open so it’s less prone to setting hard. As a result, the grass grows very, very quickly,” Dr Battam said.

SOILCO’s end markets include sporting fields.

Organic resources recovered from landfill via household and commercial food and garden organics recycling programs are transformed into organic soil improvers by SOILCO.

SOILCO supplies organic top dressing to improve the health of many sports fields, including those managed by Wollongong City Council.

Often, community fields are constructed from natural soil, which may lack the necessary characteristics to consistently perform. Renovation of the field can improve these characteristics and works can include:

  • Removing existing turf,
  • Laser levelling the surface,
  • Using organic matter to amend the soil so it can sustain healthy growth, and
  • Re-turfing the field and installing drainage works.

Wollongong City Council recently celebrated some fantastic results from their Food Organics and Garden Organics service rolled out to households in November 2020. This closes the loop by recycling organics from local kitchens and gardens for community use.

GO Compost Premium and Organic Top Dress build and regenerate sports fields.

When choosing a mix for sports ground, the primary criteria is that turf has to be able to handle heavy traffic, even after substantial rain.

Trials have found that organic matter can hold up to twice its weight or more in water.

SOILCO worked with Wingecarribee Shire Council to improve the soil health and turf cover of 10 sports fields. Wingecarribee Shire is an important catchment area for water supply to Sydney, Wollongong and the Northern Shoalhaven.

SOILCO supplied the fit-for-purpose Organic Top Dress – a composted blend of sand, soil, GO Compost and manure. Finely screened, it provides easy spread-ability and outstanding water infiltration and absorption. It also meets the Australian Standard AS4419-2018.

Multiple improvements can be achieved by increasing organic matter through the incorporation of GO Compost Premium (AS4454) on sporting fields. GO Compost can be incorporated into both turf underlays and topdressing mixes to improve turf health and performance by:

  • Reducing the amount of water turf needs,
  • Increasing water-holding capacity in soil, so the turf can better survive droughts,
  • Helping the soil resistant compaction, so roots have better access to air and water,
  • Supplying the necessary nutrients to soil and turf,
  • Increasing tolerance to temperature and UV radiation, and
  • Preventing disease by promoting biodiversity in the soil.

Contact us for more information on our soil health products for sports fields.