Munoo Prasad, Compost Research/AD & Advisory, Ireland
BioCycle August 2019
BioCycle reached out to organics recycling associations in many countries for suggestions for international Trailblazers. Among those responding was Percy Foster, Director of Cré, Ireland’s composting and anaerobic digestion association. “One person who has earned recognition is Dr. Munoo Prasad, who is still very active in composting in Ireland,” noted Foster. “Over his life he has published over 120 technical and scientific papers including several books. More recently he developed a test method — “Determination of plant response: petri dish test using cress” — which is being made into a European CEN standard 16089.” (CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, is officially recognized as a European standards body by the European Union.)
Prasad served as Group Leader with the Research Division, New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture from 1976 to 1991. He was Chief Scientist at Bord Na Mona (one of the largest peat companies in Europe) from 1991 to 2006. “My main area of research has been in use of compost as a growing media and peat replacement,” explains Prasad. “We were first to show that pinus radiata bark can be composted in New Zealand and used at 100 percent as a growing media. This led to a new industry in New Zealand, including exports to Japan and elsewhere, which until then used bark as a fuel for energy generation. In Ireland, we conducted research in the mid-1990s that led to composting green waste for use as a partial replacement of peat — up to 30 to 40 percent — of growing media. This in turn led to development of a composting plant being built with a capacity 131,000 cubic yards in Ireland. Our research also led to use of 100 percent peat-free growing media for the retail market based on the composting of Sitka spruce bark.” Other areas of research include development of an innovative test for plant toxicity and an “oxygen uptake rate test using Oxitop which is now also an European wide method,” notes Prasad.
— Nora Goldstein, BioCycle