Project to study turning waste into feed, fertilizer

Australian project aims to develop safe animal feed and high-nitrogen and -phosphorus fertilizer for agricultural use

Australia’s Minister of Agriculture Barnaby Joyce has announced a prospective project that would create new sources of fertilizers and feed by using algae, bacteria and chemotrophs to recapture nutrients from waste products.

The project sets out to achieve the development of safe animal feed and high-nitrogen and -phosphorus fertilizer for agricultural use. This is a concept and approach that is completely new to agriculture. Alternative soil improvers including composts, teas and pellets generated from low-cost cleaner composting technologies will also be investigated.

“Livestock produce large volumes of underutilized waste which contain significant amounts of macronutrients but these are typically in a diluted form and nutritionally unbalanced for agricultural crops, as well as being hard to transport off farm,” Australian Pork Limited General Manager Research & Innovation Program Darryl D’Souza said.

The “Waste to Revenue: novel fertilizers and feed project” will develop new technologies to recapture the nutrients in waste, evaluate nutritive, agronomic and economic benefits of the new products, and investigate potential barriers to adoption in order to generate the most benefit for producers and end users.

“Generating these new products will improve the sustainability, productivity and profitability of primary industries through the generation of new revenue streams and reduced input costs. The production of digestible feed will supplement existing feeds while fertilizers will improve crop productivity, carbon availability and soil resilience to erosion, frost, drought and heat stress,” D’Souza said.

This research will be carried out collaboratively by the University of Queensland and University of Western Australia and is supported by a range of Rural Research and Development Corporations that produce and utilize waste products; Australian Pork Limited, Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia Limited, Meat and Livestock Australia and Rural Industries Development Corporation (Meat Chickens).