Organic waste: the way of the biofuture

Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) are investigating ways to convert organic waste into biofertilisers thanks to State Government funding.

The grant is part of the Waste to Biofutures Fund providing $5 million to help Queensland companies find innovative ways to convert waste into bio-based products.

Chief investigator, Professor Bernadette McCabe from the USQ Centre for Agricultural Engineering, said the research was about finding innovative ways to make the nutrient-rich organic material the same as synthetic fertilisers.

Professor McCabe said, ultimately, the USQ team was aiming to produce machinery which could convert waste into a money-earner for farmers.

“What we are hoping to develop is a piece of equipment that could be used on site at waste facilities and farms to not only help with the recycling of organic waste but also create a product that can provide an additional source of revenue,” she said.

The $50,000 State Government grant will be co-matched by USQ and the Fight Food Waste CRC.

Professor McCabe said the disposal of biodegradable wastes through landfill was unsustainable from both an environmental and a financial perspective.

“Agricultural recycling is considered the best practicable environmental option for organic waste, but there are many logistic and practical difficulties that need to be overcome, including unbalanced chemical composition and physical properties not suitable for standard farm spreading equipment,” Professor McCabe said.

“Developing a product with optimal chemical and physical properties should ensure farmers are confident in the product, and secure the agricultural route for disposal.”

Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said USQ was one of the first six organisations supported through the Palaszczuk Government’s Waste to Biofutures Fund, with around 85 jobs to be created during construction and operation of the relevant projects.

“Queensland is leading the way when it comes to turning waste streams into high-value bioproducts with environmental benefits,” Mr Dick said.

“These six projects will create biogas, syngas and fertiliser replacements, and energy to run industrial plants and charge electric vehicles, but most importantly they’ll create more jobs for Queenslanders.”

USQ’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering is focused on delivering applied practical and profitable research solutions that strengthen agricultural productivity and address environmental management challenges in Australia and overseas.

Learn more here.

women smiling in a lab with labcoat on
Chief investigator, Professor Bernadette McCabe from the USQ Centre for Agricultural Engineering, said the research was about finding innovative ways to make the nutrient-rich organic material the same as synthetic fertilisers.