With soaring global fertiliser costs hitting the hip pocket of Australian farmers, a move from a group of egg producers has led to a $38-million investment to transform spent chickens manure and other waste into a new type of fertiliser.

Key points:

  • The plant will use spent chickens and manure to make a new type of fertiliser
  • The new plant is hoping to produce 75,000 tonnes of fertiliser each year
  • Victorian Farmers Federation says it will help fight poultry biosecurity concerns

Incitec Pivot Limited will now become the majority shareholder of Australian Bio Fert Pty Ltd, a company that has spent years developing a poultry waste solution.

A new plant will be built near Lethbridge, in south-west Victoria, where the company is hoping to produce 75,000 tonnes of fertiliser a year, using waste materials with carbon and fertiliser products.

Years spent finding solution

Brian Ahmed, the president of the Victorian Farmers Federation egg group, is on the board of Australian Bio Fert Pty Ltd and said he and several farmers had spent years trying to find a solution.

“The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was very conscious of using raw manure on land because of the pathogen content and other things.”

“Last year in Lethbridge, there was an avian influenza outbreak because of open-air composting – so this will stop it because everything is being done indoors.”

Mr Ahmed said after building a number of relationships with engineers and industry groups over the years, he is happy to see Incitec make the move.

a man is smiling at the camera with cartons of eggs laying behind him

Brian Ahmed says the new facility will help tackle biosecurity concerns. (Supplied: Brian Ahmed)

Works approval

Last year, subject to conditions, the EPA granted a Works Approval for Australian Bio Fert to construct a poultry organic waste facility in Lethbridge.

Incitec Agronomy and Innovation vice president Charlie Walker said the large investment would produce a consistent, quality product available for farmers.

“The region around Lethbridge has quite a large number of meat, chicken and egg producers and stretches out about 50 to 60 kilometres – a really significant poultry region,” Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker said the company would break up the waste material and combine it with fertiliser products and carbon.

“We will chop up the waste material into a certain degree of fineness into the torrefier, that applies heat and produces a black powder, then we can combine it with the other ingredients,” he said.

“We’re better synchronising the supply of nutrients in alignment with plant demand, whereas a typical application of compost or conventional fertiliser get a big wave of nutrient availability and then it dies out.”

Competitive prices

Mr Walker said once the fertiliser was made, the price would be competitive with other fertilisers on the market.

The company currently has a pilot plant near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, and hopes to increase production there so it can soon produce product with commercial growers.

“The objective is for the plant to be commissioned around the middle of next year, at which stage it will have 75,000 tonnes of manufacturing capacity per year,” he said.

Posted , updated 

Multi-million-dollar investment to convert chicken manure into new type of fertiliser
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