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Diana’s choy at smart fertiliser made of chicken waste

BOK CHOY JOY: CQUniversity science student Diana Paez Rativa proudly shows off her bok choy crop, which was grown using smart fertilisers.
BOK CHOY JOY: CQUniversity science student Diana Paez Rativa proudly shows off her bok choy crop, which was grown using smart fertilisers. CQUniversity

EVEN as a little girl growing up in Colombia, Rockhampton student Diana Rativa had an interest in sustainable farming.

And a project working on "smart fertiliser" has already logged some success, with her last bok choy test crop harvested in half the time expected.

The fertiliser is made up of chicken waste which is converted into a granulated fertiliser and mixed with either charred wood, or biochar, or two different components of volcanic ash, zeolite and bentonite.

The poultry manure is derived from biochar-added chicken feed, which improves bird growth, retains nitrogen in the manure, adds nutrients to the plants and stores carbon in the soil.

"Poultry is a big industry in Australia," she said.

"They have all this waste and people don't know what to do with it."

Diana is currently studying a Bachelor of Science at CQUniversity, specialising in Agricultural and Food Science.

She said the first time they grew the bok choy crop it took two months to harvest.

The second harvest was conducted last Monday after only a month, a month earlier than they expected.

Diana has also been doing an industry analysis on the inclination CQ farmers have to use organic or non-organic methods.

She is keen to get some work experience in the local organic farming sector.

She said she was interested in improving sustainable farming in CQ, and wants to give growers more information on organic practices.

She said it can be difficult to convince farmers who have been inorganic for years to change practices due to the expense in the beginning, but believes the cost is worth it.

"Applying this sustainable practice can help them," she said.

"They can start to see the benefits in a few months."

Topics:  cquniversity fertiliser sustainable farming