Waste used to feed soil

By Geoff Adams on June 29, 2017
  • Waste used to feed soil

    Seeka Australia operations manager Ryan Donovan checks the strip of compost under new kiwifruit vines.

  • Waste used to feed soil

    A truck load of compost waiting to be dispersed on the orchard.

  • Waste used to feed soil

    The processed compost comes out looking black.

  • Waste used to feed soil

    Seeka Australia orchard manager Jon Van Popering with the modified fertilizer spreader that is used to lay down bands of compost.

  • Waste used to feed soil

    Kiwi fruit growing at Bunbartha.

Green waste from Shepparton’s gardens is helping to grow Australia’s biggest kiwifruit crop.

Every year about 3000tonnes of composted green waste is applied to the soils of the orchard at Bunbartha near Shepparton.

The Seeka Australia business is the biggest grower of kiwifruit and nashi fruit in the country, and chances are, if you buy a kiwifruit for your table or your lunchbox, it’s been grown in the Goulburn Valley.

The company is using the waste, which goes through a composting process run by a private company, to build up the organic structure of the soil.

And Seeka Australia operations manager Ryan Donovan said it was getting results.

‘‘Kiwifruit loves it,’’ he said.

‘‘They get their feeder roots into it. And the worms come back.’’

Mr Donovan has extensive experience in horticulture in New Zealand where they enjoy deep volcanic soils, but Australian soils tend to be shallow and dry.

He said even in New Zealand composting was used.

Fertilisers have their role, but Mr Donovan said it was about building humus in the soil, not just nutrition.

Compost allows the soils to store more nutrition.

Seeka applies about 3000tonnes annually to the orchard, at the rate of about 10tonne/ha.

The cost of freighting compost can be prohibitive, but the company which makes the compost, Western Composting, is just down the road from the orchard.

Seeka has about 270ha under trees and vines and is planting out more orchard on about 60ha with mostly kiwifruit and nashis.

Ever year about 7500tonnes of green waste is generated in the City of Greater Shepparton, where more residents are being encouraged to use the green bins and to avoid contaminating the bins with the wrong waste.

Greater Shepparton City Council waste education officer Jean Young said if green waste goes into the wrong bin it could end up in landfill. Council is charged for every tonne of waste that goes into the Cosgrove landfill.

Green waste that goes into the correct, green bin is useful for composting and doesn’t add to the city’s waste problem.

In May about 2.6 per cent of green bins were contaminated, which meant that about 15tonnes had to go to landfill.

Greater Shepparton City Council acting director infrastructure Mike Freeman said local farmers and growers used the composted organic waste, improving the health of soils and making the land more productive and drought-resistant.

‘‘When dumping organic waste in landfill it has major consequences as the material decomposes with minimal oxygen,’’ Mr Freeman said.

‘‘This produces odorous gases and methane which has a global warming potential 25 times greater than carbon dioxide.

‘‘Dumping food and garden waste in landfill is also a waste of a useful resource which could be used to enrich our soils and help to grow healthy crops and pastures that produce food for everyone.’’

By Geoff Adams on June 29, 2017

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