Million-dollar project to manage manure

By Country News

The Federal Government will invest $2.95 million for a project that will include a series of trials to address water, nutrient and manure management.

As part of the Smart Farming Partnership, the project will capture manure nutrients to be easily applied over a greater area or exported off-farm, to reduce nutrient loss through effluent water purification systems.

Dairy and piggery trials will be conducted to recover biogas energy from manure, by using solid separation technology to separate solid material from the liquid portion of cow and pig manure.

This aims to reduce on-farm energy costs, run-off of nutrients and the protection of soils and water.

Trials on anaerobic digestion and composting will be conducted in labs to control the decomposition of manure and harness the power of microbes, to transform manure and other organic waste into biogas.

Nitrogen conserving composting methods and the formulation of balanced novel fertiliser products with increased nutrient efficiency will be developed, reducing non-renewable inorganic fertiliser demand for crop growth.

This will involve using 60-litre, fully-controlled compost reactors with various bulking agents, mixing ratios, additives and covers, to trial the reduction in ammonia loss.

The reduction in ammonia loss manure used on farm will result in reductions of nitrogen loss and environmental hazards such as air pollution.

The manure amendments will then be tested at two egg layer farms.

The project also suggests novel fertiliser products have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient losses, reducing farm production costs.

Promising fertiliser formulations will progress to robotic growth accelerator trials (rapid growth pot trials using robotics to schedule and apply water), with photographic 3D scanning to measure rhizobacteria effects on plant establishment, leaching, nutrient release and plant growth performance.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the project would be led by animal health company Scolexia and would increase farm profits with high-tech manure and nitrogen management.

“This has big potential and could be applied in many animal farming operations,” Mr Littleproud said.

“This project gives farmers the tools and know-how needed to continue with their great environmental work and be rewarded for it.”

The technology will be trialled in farms in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.