Developing fertiliser from waste products
Turning waste into a practical resource is the pinnacle of a sustainable on-farm system. Products that would otherwise end up in waste can rejuvenate highly saline, acidic or and soils and reduce the use of traditional chemical fertilisers. Healthier soils also increase the efficiency of other inputs.
Using specially-developed microbes from Greenbelt bio fertiliser, Rob Hinrichsen of Kalfresh in Queensland has developed his own fertiliser. Combined with other innovative best practice techniques and innovations, this helped Mr Hinrichsen win the 2016 AUSVEG Grower of the Year award at the National Horticulture Convention in June.
Grower case study
The process and ingredients used to develop a fertiliser will be different for each grower, depending on where they are based and what is available, as Mark Low from Greenbelt explained.
Normally when we meet with a grower, we chat about what base materials are available in their area and create a recipe. We use what can be sourced and are very interested in taking waste materials from local areas and returning the carbon back into the soil.
A range of inputs are possible based on what is sustainable and available nearby. In the initial trail at Kalfresh, different manures, saw dust and mushroom waste were combined with a mix of specific microbes and fungi.
After around a month under the right temperature and moisture conditions, the microbes developed the fertiliser from this trail, there was a reported 20 percent increase in overall yield compared to the control.
As part of the Soil Wealth trial site at Kalbar, this fertiliser is used in combination with new research in biological agents, controlled traffic farming, reduced tillage and other best practice techniques.