Restore the soil: JR Richards and Sons and Jindalee Ag

Restore the soil: JR Richards and Sons and Jindalee Ag

Stakeholder communication is critical to the production of nutrient rich compost for soil regeneration. JR Richards and Sons and Jindalee Ag explain.

More than 30 per cent of the world’s land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salination, compaction and chemical pollution, according to Restore the Soil: Prosper the Nation.

The 2017 report, written by National Soil Advocate Major General Michael Jeffery for the Prime Minister, argues that the combined effects of global insecurities – population increase, finite resource depletion and the effects of climate change – mean improving agricultural soil quality is imperative to global security.

“Soil is a critical national strategic asset,” Mr Jeffery explains in the report.

To progress the renewal process, the report outlines a number of recommendations, including engaging in regenerative farming practices through the application of organic composts and bio amendments.

The is a belief shared by JR Richards and Sons (JRR) and Jindalee Ag, two companies committed to the production of nutrient rich compost.

While two separate entities with unique and varied histories, JRR and Jindalee Ag have partnered to maximise their distribution capabilities.

JRR, a name synonymous with waste management and resource recovery, has been providing collection and processing services to local government and private operators since 1958.

They currently service kerbside collections for over 20 councils, with three state of the art in-tunnel composting facilities in NSW.

On the other hand, Jindalee Ag was established four years ago by Daniel Hibberson, who was driven by a passion to help farmers understand their soil and the microbial workforce beneath the ground.

Jindalee Ag works collaboratively with recycling and waste management operators such as JRR to support the transition to more profitable and sustainable practices within agriculture, horticulture and viticulture.

Mark Darwin, JRR Facilities Manager, says the two companies connected after a chance encounter in Queensland.

“When JRR first started processing FOGO for local governments in 2012, while we understood the technical processes and systems required to produce nutrient rich compost, we didn’t fully understand the end markets,” Mark says.

“As an organisation, we recognised the necessity to educate and build market awareness to be successful.

“We had estimated this would require several years of marketing, field trials, soil analysis and subsidising product to gain market penetration, something that we were committed to undertaking.”

JRR then met Daniel, and through discussions learnt he had already established significant market leads and value-added processes, selling to customers such as Costa Group and Lawson’s Grains.

From there, JRR and Jindalee Ag struck up a partnership, Mark says, with AS4454 and NASAA Organically Certified RichEarth compost produced at JRR facilities and sold through Jindalee Ag’s distribution network.

FORGING AHEAD WITH FOGO

Launched almost 10 years ago, JRR’s RichEarth composting business grew out of the Grafton Organics Recycling Facility (ORF) development. Located in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW, the facility was established through JRR’s Clarence Valley Council FOGO processing contract.

“Since then, our organic recycling and compost business has gone from strength to strength, with three ORF’s now fully-operational, producing high quality mulch and compost products,” Mark says.

All RichEarth compost batches are sampled and tested to ensure they meet the strict quality control requirements of the AS4454 Standard. Mark adds however that JRR and Jindalee Ag are dedicated to exceeding market expectations.

“Put simply, our approach is setting high standards and then bettering them. We are finding that there are facilities focusing on a gate fee for their revenue and then flooding the market with cheap product,” he says.

“We knew that to realise a return we needed to differentiate ourselves from the market and provide a value proposition to farmers by committing to and producing higher quality product.”

To achieve this, Mark says JRR and Jindalee Ag work to keep communication lines open through extensive stakeholder communications strategies.

“This involves working with councils to manage contamination and inform public education programs, as well as consistently engaging with collection drivers, contamination sorters, facility operators and the EPA,” Mark explains.

“Our processes include undertaking regular quality and site inspections, sharing test results and product images between sites and weekly teleconferences with stakeholders. These actions are all taken with the express intention to collaboratively discuss operations and identify issues.”

Furthermore, JRR and Jindalee Ag run on-site field days to educate the public and keep them engaged with the organic’s recovery process. 

According to Mark, proactively engaging with the public has a twofold effect.

“By observing the organics recovery process firsthand, people are more likely to understand the effects of contamination, and in turn, more likely to engage in better source separation practices,” Mark says.

“On the flip side, that engagement is also beneficial for us, as we get a better read on the public’s needs and how we could better service them.

“JRR and Jindalee Ag are committed to producing compost of value. The importance of returning organic matter and vital nutrients to the soil cannot be underestimated.”

With the NSW Government injecting over $24 million to support local councils improve FOGO kerbside services, Mark highlights JRR’s proven record of providing holistic FOGO solutions for local government.

“We believe in the importance of stakeholder communication in producing quality compost beneficial to Australian soils and work hard with all parties to produce the best organically certified compost we can,” he says.

Pictured: Mark Darwin, Daniel Hibberson and Ross Skinner. 

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