Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2016-03-30 Contents PAGE 16 – The Courier Wednesday, March 30, 2016
WHAT HAPPENS TO ADELAIDE’S GREEN WASTE?
Soil is not a dirty word
Millions of tonnes of green waste are collected by local councils each year
... but what happens to it? Courier journalist Elisa Rose toured the Peats
Soil facility near Langhorne Creek during an open day last week to see
how the company turns household garden waste into a valuable product.
And if anyone needs more proof of its worth – a tour of the company’s
lush vegetable garden in poor quality mallee soil is all that is needed.
Every day countless tiny microbes are
hard at work helping to keep our ground
healthy and soil nutrients plentiful.
While most people are oblivious to the
habits of the invisible organisms, soil
microbiologist Dr Ash Martin is very
familiar with them and last week shared his
knowledge at a field day at Peats Soil and
Garden Supplies in Langhorne Creek.
Dr Martin presented to around two dozen
people at the field day, explaining how the
different types of microbes – from bacteria
to fungus – benefited soil, ranging from
improving soil structure to suppressing
disease and increasing nutrient supply.
He also explained how different types
of soils affected the populations of the
organisms and the role microbes could
have in improving soil by helping to bind
it together and creating pores in the soil to
allow nutrients and water to enter.
The event, which included a tour of Peats’
Langhorne Creek site, was organised by the
Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning
Association with funding from Natural
Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin and
the Federal Government.
of tonnes of organic waste every
year, much of which is destined for
But Peats Soil and Garden Supplies,
which has sites at Willunga, Langhorne
Creek and Dublin, is putting the waste
to good use, turning out more than 2.5
million bags of product every year.
The company receives around a third
of Adelaide’s kerbside green waste and
subjects it to rigorous processing in
order to recycle the nutrients.
The end product is a range of garden
products from basic compost to pellets.
All of Peats products aim to improve
soil quality with their basic compost
improving soil nutrients and moisture
retention while the other products
can be tailored to the specific needs of
The end result is an increase in the
availability of soil nutrients, regulated
soil pH and the suppression of plant
Peats commercial manager John
Hogarth said recycling green matter
played an important part in caring for
“By recycling organic matter we’re
producing the best environmental
outcome by the reuse of organic
materials, as opposed to it being lost
into landfill which creates significant
levels of methane and loses a lot of
organic nutrients,” he said.
Mr Hogarth said it took six to eight
months to produce their pellets with
other products such as compost and
potting mix taking three to four
The process involves manually
removing large non-organic matter,
coarse grinding the organic matter,
windrow turning – during which it
is pasteurised and composted – and
finally screening and further removal
After it’s screened any particles that
are too large are re-processed, while
the finished product is either sold as
part of their bagged or bulk product
range or further processed to create
Much of the 700ha property at
Langhorne Creek, which Mr Hogarth
said consisted of sand over limestone,
received only 400mm of rain a year and
has “terrible” carbon levels, is allocated
to testing the products.
Despite the poor soil conditions
employees have created a thriving
vegetable garden which Mr Hogarth
said had a little help from Peats’
compost and Peats Blend 437.
Burgers and chips are not usually
associated with recycling, but that’s
exactly what Peats is doing with the
waste that comes from restaurants
that make such tasty treats.
The bio-diesel plant at Peats Soil and
Garden Supplies in Langhorne Creek
produces around a megalitre of bio-diesel
every year – all from the waste that comes
from the fat-traps of restaurants and fast-
food chains across the state.
The waste, which is delivered to the
Langhorne Creek site, is put through
a process which isolates the fats and
removes the water before breaking down
the fats and binding them with ethanol to
Peats bio-diesel project manager Assoc
Professor Ted McMurchie, who owns
consulting business PhDeX, said the end
product had the same energy levels as
mineral diesel and was also biodegradable.
He said using a waste product to create
the fuel provided a good return.
“It’s a second generation process to
what’s been used before, making bio-diesel
out of seed oils,” he said.
“Essentially what we’re doing is using a
waste product to make a useful product.”
Peats Soil and Garden Supplies
commercial manager John Hogarth said
he hoped the bio-diesel produced from the
plant would one day be enough to fuel all
of the vehicles at the Langhorne Creek
site, but the bio-diesel plant was not the
only self-sustainability project at the site.
In addition to their own desalination
plant – which desalinates 40,000 litres
water from their bores every day – they
hope to one day generate all of their own
power through an anaerobic digester
that converts organic matter to methane,
which is combusted to make power.
oil into fuel
Dr Ash Martin
of soil and how
the ground. With the
right nutrients and
microbes even the
worst soil, like the
sand and limestone
earth at the Peats
site in Langhorne
Creek, can produce
Peats Soil and Garden Supplies production manager Ian North helps to produce a range of products.
Dr Ted McMerchie, left, and Mike Jureidini
can turn the fatty waste from restaurants
across SA into energy-rich bio-diesel.
It takes around three to four months to produce compost while pellets take about
twice as long. INSET: Peats Soil and Garden Supplies commercial manager John
Hogarth said recycling organic matter played a role in salvaging organic nutrients.
John Pitt, left, from OTM Civil
Construction travelled all the way from
Clare for the presentation, while Paul
Erkelenz from Astrebla Agribusiness and
NRM Consulting travelled from Goolwa.
Peats Soil and Garden Supplies turns
out more than 2.5 million bags of bagged
product every year.
Tiny microbes play a huge role in improving soil
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