Loop Organics is working with the end-to-end users of organics, delivering high-value crops and supporting NSW farmers during the recent drought.
While there is no universal definition of drought, NSW is experiencing one of its most severe droughts on record, with extreme low rainfall affecting farmers over the past six to nine months.
As governments around the world deal with climate change and its impact on multiple sectors, one solution being proposed to support the agricultural sector is sustainable intensification. In a nutshell, sustainable intensification sees better optimisation of resources while using fewer inputs and producing greater yields.
This paradigm shift is already being driven by multiple organisations across Australia, including Loop Organics. The company has managed to get high crop yields using organics wastes from food manufacturing where the majority of the state is in drought, and in turn supply fodder to NSW farmers experiencing drought.
Loop Organics has donated bales of oaten hay grown in the winter of 2019 to farmers in the Northern Tablelands and Lower Hunter Valley area, closing the loop between food processors and primary producers and creating healthier soils that can support ongoing agricultural production.
With a combined experience of more than 60 years, the team at Loop Organics have a wealth of experience in a broad range of organics management areas. The company has presided over some of the largest liquid organics and biosolids reuse programs in Australia. Its services comprise composting, wastewater lagoon desludging and dewatering, collection, transport and land application of both liquid and solid organics.
Loop’s staff has provided consulting and contracting services to water authorities and councils since 1994. The company operates large-scale biosolids management and reuse programs for a number of east coast water authorities and food processors.
In the Sydney Basin, Loop Organics receives waste from milk producers, chicken abattoirs, yoghurt culture manufacturers and a range of other sites. Loop Organics works on farms on the outskirts of Sydney. In some cases, the farms have been left for a long period of time without any intensive farming.
Tim Wilson, of Loop Organics, says Loop operate on five farms in the Sydney Basin, close to 1000 hectares of land.
He says that a history of soil compaction is eliminated through deep ripping and delivery of moisture, organic matter and nutrients directly to the root zone. This process mechanically breaks up compacted soil layers and uses strong tynes to loosen hard layers of soil.
“We’ve been able to retain a lot more soil moisture in the dry period so we’re getting high yielding crops where the majority of the state is in drought,” Tim says.
“We’re not using any chemical fertiliser, we’re using a by-product from food generation so it’s sustainable. We’re just returning what’s been taken from the soil, putting it back and getting a high value product out of it.”
Lisa Rawlinson, Loop Organics Director, says that the winter crops are typically oats and in the summer, crops such as sudangrass, millet or sorghum are grown. Importantly, moisture and high value nutrients are returned to the soil at a suitable application rate to produce high value crops which Loop can supply to farmers during periods of drought.
“The production we’re achieving is almost akin to those from irrigation areas and that’s principally because the liquids we’re delivering into the subsoil are being retained, so the crops can withstand the low rainfall drought conditions we’ve been experiencing over recent years,”
Loop Organics’ Hunter Valley composting facility, located at Ravensworth, is situated within a market with a large demand for organic products and along B-double transport routes. The facility can process up to 55,000 tonnes per year of garden organics and biosolids to create specialised soil amendment products for agriculture and mine rehabilitation purposes.
Matthew Brown, Loop Organics Regional Manager, Hunter Valley, says the company is now looking to grow its Hunter Valley site and is open to new sources of clean material.
“We are hunting for clean, commercial-scale quantity material,” Matthew says.
“At the moment we’ve got the ability to bring green waste in and we’ll look at producing a high-quality compost, targeting farmers and mine rehabilitation.”
He says that Loop Organics is keen to support councils with green waste and food organics services.
“We already have a good relationship with local government, but it’s also thinking about how we can help them in other areas that they have to manage.”
“The compost facility is designed to take materials not just in the Hunter, but also out of Sydney and part of the broader Loop Organics business.
The focus for the future is also for Loop Organics to gain approval to receive, process, decontaminate and compost food organics in the Hunter.
He says the company is looking to the future to ensure it can meet its customer’s needs in three to five and even 10 years’ time.