The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Organic Waste to Horticultural Resource

Sponsored by the ISHS Section Tropical & Subtropical Fruits and Commissions Plant Substrates & Soilless Culture and Sustainability though Integrated & Organic Horticulture

This Symposium on “Organic waste to horticultural resource” will be held in Brisbane during the IHC2014 Congress (17-22 August 2014).

The impetus to transform waste from food, agricultural, construction, water and indeed horticultural industries into viable commercial products has increased markedly in the last three decades. In Europe, pressures to reduce peat as a growing medium in some countries has led to uptake of renewable resources such as bark, coir and green compost: all formerly regarded as wastes. Indeed some materials, notably coir are now recognised as highly valued substrate constituents and production contributes significantly to the local economy in parts of India and Sri Lanka. Challenges have intensified with biomass demands for some of these materials notably bark, both in Europe and the USA.

Composted wastes of plant, animal, and even human origin are now widely used in soil amendment and as components of substrates for plant growth. Also within the realm of plant cultivation, reuse of waste water from for example, fish ponds, has formed the basis of Aquaponics systems in several parts of the world.

Organic wastes may also find other uses in industry: pigments may be extracted from waste fruit peels and used as ‘natural’ dyeing agents: energy can be produced from anaerobic digestion of glasshouse crop waste.

Horticulture may offer solutions to the disposal of many organic wastes, but emphasis must be placed on quality and consistency. The success of products and processes developed through years of often painstaking research is often assured only through complementary rigorous quality control procedures.

The convenor welcomes oral and poster contributions to the symposium in Brisbane, which will be partitioned into four themes:

  • Plant growing media derived wholly or partially from composting processes
  • Recirculating systems of cultivation in hydroponics and aquaponics
  • Novel uses of organic wastes in horticultural and other industries
  • Quality control processes: essential underpinning of waste transformation and end-use.


Dr Bill Carlile, researched and lectured for many years in the Applied Plant Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, and from 2001 as Head of Microbiology, Plant and Environmental Sciences. His research, always linked to industry, in crop protection and soilless media led to Bill accepting the post of Principal Horticultural Scientist at Bord na Mona, the Irish Peat Board in 2006, where the principal focus of his work was on peat dilution and replacement in growing media. Bill remained with Bord na Mona until his retirement from the post in 2011, but continues to act as consultant to the company and others with interests in growing media and crop protection. He has written many papers and reviews on growing media, and is the author of two books on crop protection, one of which is a standard text currently in its third edition.

Co-convenor: Dr Mike Nichols, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Keynote Speaker

Dr Chris Blok will give a keynote address related to by-products ( bark, coir, green compost) and their use in horticultural substrates, specifically focusing on experiences in Holland. In 1984 he became the first research engineer at the fast growing Rockwool Grodan Company (production of rockwool as a growing medium). In 1992 he joined Beekenkamp plant propagators as specialist in sowing media and rooting. In 1995 he became researcher at the department for soil fertility and plant nutrition at the Glasshouse Crops Research and Experimental Station in Naaldwijk. He is now researcher at ‘Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture’, a business unit of Wageningen University and Research (merged with the Naaldwijk station). He has been involved in the development of growing media (systems) in the Netherlands as well as abroad. He was the main inventor on five patents for several of his employers and developed a patent strategy for Grodan. He became involved in quality and certification work in 1984 and over time was representative for the Netherlands in the European Norms Commission CEN for Growing Media and Soil Improvers. He was involved with ISHS symposia since 1984 and was convener for the GroSci2013 symposium in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Dr Bill Carlile will give a keynote address on composting and the transformation of wastes into growing media.

Scientific Committee

  • Paul Alexander (UK)
  • Andreas Baumgarten (Austria)
  • Chris Blok (The Netherlands)
  • Silvia Bures (Spain)
  • Anne Coules (England)
  • Laura Crippa (Italy)
  • Owen Doyle (Ireland)
  • Paul Fisher (USA)
  • Brian Jackson (USA)
  • Alberto Masaguer Rodriguez (Spain)
  • Jean-Charles Michel (France)
  • Reza Nemati (Canada)
  • Dimitrios Savvas (Greece)
  • Maurice Vestburg (Finland)
  • Wim Voogt (The Netherlands)
  • Patrizia Zaccheo (Italy)
  • Youbin Zheng (Canada)