Farm Products

New fertiliser pellets a game changer

John Webster developed a revolutionary way of turning biosolids into dry pellets for fertiliser.
John Webster developed a revolutionary way of turning biosolids into dry pellets for fertiliser. Contributed

TURNING poop into gold is an undeniably useful skill and one John Webster considers his speciality.

Mr Webster was the brains behind JWinnovo self-dessicating fertliser pellets, a technology he said was set to revolutionise the cropping industry.

He said he got the idea for the new form of fertiliser after seeing a similar principle used in the process of neutralising asbestos waste.

The concept was modified as a useful way to remove water from biosolids, which contain about 85% moisture, and turn it into dried pellets containing less than 10% water.

"Biosolids, when used in its raw form, is required by regulation to be mixed into the soil in less than 24 hours,” Mr Webster said.

"This means that the farmer must accept the biosolids when available rather than when needed.”

He said the pellets were low odour, had a low bacteria count and could be stored indefinitely to be used at the ideal time, making them a lot more versatile than the liquid product.

They also amounted to four or five times less volume to transport, adding to an already enviable list of traits.

"Many studies show fertiliser application versus plant uptake seriously out of step, with about 50% of the nutrient lost to the environment,” Mr Webster said.

"Additionally, most fertiliser is consumed or washed away by the start of the next crop.

"Our advanced fertiliser sorber system prevents this, remaining in the soil fixing and releasing nutrients permanently, while boosting soil health and sequestering carbon with our 65% carbon pellets.

"We have been working on pelletising various blends of biosolids, animal manures, composts and biomass, along with additives that absorb and store the nutrients inside the pellet called 'sorbers'.

"Once our pellets are used, these sorbers remain in the soil permanently helping to buffer nutrients and moisture and home to bacteria.”

Mr Webster said the development stage was well under way and there were promising signs the new technology would actually work out cheaper than traditional fertilisers.

He said they would not require any special equipment to apply.

"Well, all I can say is that we are working on a number of projects that together could process in excess of 500,000 tonnes of wet biosolids per year,” Mr Webster said.

"At this scale of operations the cost of one tonne of dry pellets (six tonnes of raw sludge) will be significantly lower per hectare than the equivalent chemical fertiliser and work over a longer time.”

He said the technology was up to the pilot scale phase and well on the way to large-scale trials.

Topics:  fertiliser