A SOUTH Burnett farmer is using local unwanted pig waste to create a compost product that has boosted yields on his own crops and that of sugar cane and the medical tree, Duboisia.
Murgon producer Jason Reimers moved to a 127 hectare (315 acre) property in the area seven years ago having grown up on land in the Pilbara.
Moving to a district full of piggeries, Mr Reimers was offered pig slurry for one of his paddocks and was impressed with the results.
It led him to establish three depots on local pig farms for their unwanted waste. Each month Mr Reimers would turn and allow correct 'cooking’ of the waste to take place before it could be converted into a compost 12 to 18 months later for wholesale and bulk use.
Mr Reimers grows 16 to 20 hectares of barley on his own property and with the bi-product he was able to increase his organic matter on the soil by 1.2 per cent in under 12 months which he said is the equivalent of storing an extra 170,000 litres in one hectare.
For the last three years he has also been conducting trials with local growers of Duboisia, a native plant which produces alkaloids used in pharmaceutical products including Buscopan.
Following many years using chemical fertilizers and poisons to control weeds, Mr Reimers said the impacts eventually killed the soil until they began working to rejuvenate the soil.
"We are increasing yields up to $6000 to $7000 per acre in some cases and we are spending as little as $580 on that acre,” he said.
"We are getting similar results and comments from canegrowers in Bundaberg.”
The product is also put on macadamia and avocado trees along with crops including sorghum, peanuts and cereals.
While the use of manure from feedlots is nothing new, Mr Reimers said it wasn't that long ago that people were turned off of using waste bi-products for fears it would burn their soil and the pig waste was sitting in piles, maybe seeping into waterways.
But, he said, the pig manure and added carbon waste they ate created a useful alternative for soil health.
"The piggeries around here obviously produce manure waste and also carbon waste because they grow their pigs up on barley hay and sawdust and together...it just makes a fantastic base for a compost,”he said.
"It is a very high analysis compost which isn't typical of compost, compost is more renowned for its organic matter and inoculant, but this stuff is sort of a combination of those.
"The feed that has been grown (and fed to the pigs) has come from this area and has essentially drawn those nutrients and vitamins out of the soil gone through the pig. What we are putting back into the soil is what needs to be there anyway."
Sunrise Herb Farms and Spectrum Natural Products Wooroolin property manager Ross Lanham has been using Mr Reimers’ products on his Duboisia plants.
While comparison trials are yet to be undertaken to analyse the exact positive impact it is having on the trees, Mr Lanham believes it has improved the soil health.
He grows 500 trees to the acre on a 150 acreplot and said the trees were performing above average.
“I always thought that we should go organic because I think what they call ‘normal’ might be killing the soil around the place,” he said.
“Last year the first paddock had two crops of 800kg to the acre (yields). Usually they do one crop a year 500kg an acre.”
By March or April, Mr Reimers hopes to have set up his own crushing, screening and bagging equipment with plans to be offering a smaller retail product through his current GrowUp Organics business.
It will also allow him to offer a customised blend product and further build their second line, soft rock phosphate, a bi-product of mining at Phosphate Hill, Mt Isa.