NSW EPA's Organics Marketing Development program: encouraging takeup of recycled organics

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EcoBlanket, applied to Barden Ridge Golf Course, a former waste dump, to enable speedy rehabilitation, a first for a NSW golf course.
EcoBlanket, applied to Barden Ridge Golf Course, a former waste dump, to enable speedy rehabilitation, a first for a NSW golf course.
The Hills Bark Blower

NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Waste Less Recycle More Organics Market Development Grant Program is providing funding of $2.55 million over two years to projects that expand NSW’s market for recycled organics diverted from landfill.

Expanding markets for recycled organics

The OMD Grants Program project recipients aim to develop new markets for recycled organics (RO) and expand existing ones, to absorb the increased supply of recycled food and garden waste generated through other grants programs under the EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

The Program has three principal objectives:

  • to facilitate the expansion of markets for RO materials across NSW by an additional 70,000 tonnes by June 2017;
  • to reduce contamination risk in ‘source-separated’ organics collection systems to boost end-market confidence in RO products; and
  • to help increase awareness and knowledge of recycled organics materials and their benefits on the part of existing and potential end-users, as well as suppliers and processors, leading to more positive, sustainable practices around the use of RO products.

Organics Market Development projects

Eight projects have been funded under the Waste Less, Recycle More OMD Grant Program.

Next Gen Compost:  building demand for recycled organics in commercial horticulture

Great Sydney Local Land Services, NSW Farmers,  Institute of Sustainable Futures

 

Peter Conasch, Manager of the Sydney Vegetable Demonstration Farm showing that Next Gen compost promotes better root growth than conventional fertiliser
Greater Sydney Local Land Services

 

Next Gen Compost is a two-year project commenced in 2016 and led by the Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with NSW Farmers and the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF).  Its aim is to develop and build demand for compost products made from recycled organics that are suitable for use in commercial vegetetable production. 

'Next generation' compost is a term coined by the project to describe commercial composts that are tailored to the needs of specific soils and crops and which meet the Australian Standard for compost used in food production.

In the past, some vegetable farmers in the Sydney Basin have received compost made from recycled organics that was immature (organics not fully broken down into humus) or which contained contaminants such as small scraps of plastic.  If compost is immature, soil microbes breaking down the organic waste compete with plants for available nutrients, setting back the crop. 

The Next Gen project aims to improve grower attitudes to recycled organics by developing, trialing and demonstrating clean augmented composts that produce better overall results than conventional fertilisers, as well as dividends for soil health and water efficiency.  In addition to field work, the project includes market research and a range of extension and communication activities to help both growers and compost suppliers to understand each others' needs. 

Expanding sports field markets for the use of compost
AgEnviro Solutions Pty Ltd

A collage of AgEnviro Solutions projects: AgEnviro Solutions helps rehabilitate turf using recycled organics compost.
AgEnviro Solutions helps rehabilitate turf using recycled organics compost.
AgEnviro Solutions

 

AgEnviro Solutions’ project will showcase how compost can improve turf performance on 150 of the state’s “worst-performing” sports fields, as determined by the NSW Football Association. By is spreading RO compost across these degraded playing surfaces via its powerful ‘Bark Blower’ equipment, it is showing how recycled organic matter can help to amend the soil structure, significantly improving plant health and growth and turf performance.

AgEnviro Solutions is using three sports fields and a racecourse as demonstration sites that showcase the potential for major improvements in turf condition following the proper application of RO compost.

An important part of the project is developing technical advice and procedures to assist the managers of sportsgrounds and other playing fields in optimising the condition of their turf through timely use of site-suitable recycled organics.

Pathways to develop new markets and increase demand for compost
Australian Soil Management (ASM)
Soil experts ASM are tackling the historic depletion of organic matter in Australia’s soils in three of the state’s key agricultural regions: Riverina, Central West and Capital. They’re developing RO compost-application regimes tailored for farmers engaged in grazing and broadacre cropping in these regions.

Recycled organics compost is a key component in ASM’s sustainable soil improvement strategy, which is showing farmers that adding RO compost improves soil and plant health, leading to greater crop productivity and profit. 

Part of ASM’s RO compost market expansion plan is to give interested farmers opportunities to participate in the federal government's Carbon Abatement auctions. Here, they can be reimbursed for input costs if they sequester sufficient carbon in the soil through compost use.

 

Lead character dirtgirl (Maree Lowes) in the hit kids' TV series and digital media platform dirtgirlworld.
Lead character dirtgirl (Maree Lowes) in the hit kids' TV series and digital media platform dirtgirlworld.
Mememe Productions

Compost Rocks!
dirtgirl
Compost-loving gardening geek dirtgirl, side-kick scrapboy and affable ‘garden gnome’ Costas (aka Costas Georgiadis, presenter of ABC-TV’s Gardening Australia), from the hit kids’ TV series, have their own ‘virtual world’ – dirtgirlworld – with a large international fan base and eco-friendly objectives.

Dirtgirlworld’s creators are using their grant funds to establish an online ‘Compost Rocks!’ Compost Academy that encourages householders young and old to find more uses for compost. The Academy’s core messages will be reinforced by a year-long, dirtgirlworld-led social media campaign.

The team is also putting together a toolkit for NSW local councils to distribute for free, and an accompanying ‘campaign plan’ for councils’ use.

 

A fully revegated Barden Ridge Golf Course following application of The Hills Bark Blower's EcoBlanket.
A fully revegated Barden Ridge Golf Course following application of The Hills Bark Blower's EcoBlanket.
The Hills Bark Blower

Specifying compost blanket use on new and existing NSW roadways
The Hills Bark Blower
The Hills Bark Blower, Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) and Penelope's Garden have joined forces to deliver site-based learning that consolidates the use of its innovative ‘compost blankets’ as a part of everyday practice on sites needing rehabilitation, demonstrating their proven effectiveness in curbing erosion and rehabilitating denuded construction sites, and training RMS operatives to use them.

Recycled Organics Professional Development for Rural Advisors
MRA Consulting Group
This project is tapping into the existing training provided to rural advisors, integrating recycled organics information into their sales knowledge. Professional training will be developed and delivered through voluntary fertiliser-industry training and accreditation program Fertcare, with Recycled Organics competencies added to Fertcare’s ‘Accredited Advisor’ component.

The project team is also helping compost producers and rural agents forge business agreements that normalise the purchasing of recycled organics within NSW’s broadacre sector.

 

MRA is working to encourage farmers across NSW to use recycled organic compost and mulch rather than chemical fertilisers.
MRA is working to encourage farmers across NSW to use recycled organic compost and mulch rather than chemical fertilisers.
Virginia Brunton, MRA Consulting

Organics on the Farm – Central West project
MRA Consulting Group
MRA’s aim is “to normalise the supply chain for recycled organics to a massive potential market”. The project’s multi-pronged approach leverages existing research showing compost’s benefits to soils in the Central West region to inform rural advisors, engage local farmers and help integrate recycled organics into the existing supply chain.

It is estimated the Organics on the Farm project will boost the market for recycled organics in the region by a minimum of 14,000 tonnes.

 

Blueberries ripening on the bush: NSW DPI is helping to boost sustainable markets for recycled organic compost among broadacre horticulturalists across northern NSW, including blueberry and banana growers.
Blueberries ripening on the bush: NSW DPI is helping to boost sustainable markets for recycled organic compost among broadacre horticulturalists across northern NSW, including blueberry and banana growers.
Martin LaBar, Flickr CC

Compost in banana and blueberry growing
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)
NSW DPI is using its Grant funds to develop sustainable markets for RO compost and mulch among northern NSW’s broadacre horticulture growers. Growers can trial various compost application techniques at interactive demonstration sites, and field walks, field days, workshops and social and print media will emphasise the myriad benefits of using recycled organics.

A Prime Fact info-sheet incorporating a cost /benefit analysis will help growers and advisers make “informed decisions about the profitable use of compost in horticulture” and provide the NSW compost industry with “a legacy of credible data, packaged for ongoing marketing use”.

Further information

For project updates and further information, contact NSW EPA’s Organics Unit on 02 9995 6874 or organics.recycling@epa.nsw.gov.au
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