University of Queensland's organic hub will lead the way
THE UNIVERSITY of Queensland will lead the way in identifying new ways to recycle organic waste following the announcement of a new research hub at the Gatton campus.
The Centre for Recycling of Organic Wastes and Nutrients (CROWN) will get up and running thanks to $85,000 in seed funding from the state government.
Director Johannes Biala said the centre would work to find betters ways of utilising raw and composted organic resources for land management and plant production purposes.
After working behind the scenes for the past year and a half, he welcomed the news like a present on Christmas morning.
"I've been working in this space for a very long time and there were so many ideas sort of bottled up in my head on what should be done or what could be done and hopefully I'm at the point I can do them now,” Mr Biala said.
"We will work closely with farmers, agronomists, composters, waste managers and regulators to improve the processing and beneficial use of all organic waste and nutrient streams.
"This includes municipal and commercial organics, manure and agricultural wastes, food and fibre processing residues and biosolids and sludges.”
Mr Biala said the result of the findings conducted by students, academics from the university and other researchers and organisations would directly benefit producers in the region and beyond.
"The aim is really so when people graduate here from university, the use of organic material whether it's compost, manure or something else, becomes an integral part of farming operations,” he said.
"Farmers can make informed decisions, if it is the right thing for them, for their soil, for their crops, that's sort of what we're aiming for.
"This is what we need because at this point some farmers do use the material but they don't really know what the benefits or what they could expect.
"But also particularly trying to put a dollar value onto it, to be able to say this is really worth your while, or this is too dear or if you don't really get the benefits of it.
"Some of it we know there are benefits like soil structure improvement but it's difficult to put a dollar value and that's one of the main objectives.”
Also speaking from the Gatton campus for the announcement on Tuesday morning, Environment Minister Steven Miles said the funding would help the centre get on its feet over its first year.
"If it is successful, we will look at future funding to extend the program by another two years,” Mr Miles said.
Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden, himself a former student of the university, said he was delighted to see this important environmental project come to fruition.
"It complements two litter-busting initiatives that will drive more recycling; the ban on the supply of single-use plastic shopping bags and the introduction of the container refund scheme,” Mr Madden said.
"Both initiatives take effect from July 1 2018 to ensure we provide sufficient time for retailers and the community to be aware of the ban and to make necessary adjustments in advance of the ban.”