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Making the best use of organic waste

Tom O'Leary Oct 10
Making the best use of organic waste
Nigel Halpin: “Our compost has 2% nitrogen which, in terms of soil fertility outcomes is very rich.”

New Zealand has a reputation as a clean and green country yet every year, thousands of tonnes of organic waste is needlessly dumped into landfills or dumped on land in ways that does much more harm than good.

When this happens the green waste breaks down in processes that not only releases methane greenhouse gases into the air but also pollutants into our streams, rivers and lakes.

One company doing their bit to intervene in this destructive cycle is Hawke’s Bay organic recycling business BioRich, establish in 2004. It produces products that directly benefit our nutrient and mineral depleted soils in the form of high quality composts.

The company’s mission is to find environmentally sustainable ways to prevent organic material from ending up in the atmosphere or water, where it can only do harm and instead, transform that waste into valuable, life-giving nitrogen rich material, changing the cycle from one of depletion to one of nutrition.

Operations manager, Nigel Halpin oversees processes at BioRich’s two sites; a 4ha site 15 minutes southwest of Hastings, and a 10ha site at Awatoto, near Napier.

“We receive a variety of organic materials, including animal manure, fish waste, paunch grass (from animal stomachs supplied by abbatoirs), along with waste from food and pet food manufacturing processes, fruit and grape waste,” Nigel explains.

To this mix, other bulking materials such as shredded municipal green waste, bark and sawdust are added to arrive at the perfect balance of carbon to nitrogen. When this is achieved the compost begins to decompose aerobically.

The mix is first placed in aeration bins for up to 14 days then placed in wind rows and turned regularly. “Our composting mix can be altered to meet specialised needs of clients and the whole process meets BioGro New Zealand standards.”

Compost suitable for horticultural operations is produced in three months while BioRich AgedGarden compost needs a full nine months.

“We are always working on improving our horticultural compost and our aged-garden compost has been significantly refined.”

BioRich sites also provide a drop-off space for Hawkes Bay residents to get rid of their organic waste. At the company’s Awatoto site, a range of products are sold.

Along with BioRich branded Aged Garden Compost and Super Soil, other organic bi-products are available, from screened topsoil, firewood, bark mulch, forest floor and pea hay.

Making the best use of organic waste

Hawke’s Bay organic recycling business BioRich produces products that directly benefit nutrient and mineral depleted soils in the form of high quality composts.

Nigel says one of the company’s key focuses at this time is to respond to the bar being raised on what are acceptable odour levels emitted from the sites.

“It’s certainly something we are aware of and working on ways to deal with this side-effect of our composting manufacturing.”

The company is very proud of its BioGro certification, essentially a quality assurance system that sets a high bench-mark to first gain and then retain.

Making the best use of organic waste

“All inwards ingredients have to be approved by BioGro. They audit us annually, testing for heavy metals and ecoli and the like.”

BioRich’s key point of different Nigel says is in the amount of Nitrogen content produced this its composting process. “Our compost has 2% nitrogen which, in terms of soil fertility outcomes is very rich.”

Nigel says it is very satisfying to work in a business which produces so many positive outcomes environmentally. “What we do is extremely worthwhile, turning waste products that would potentially harm the environment into products that restore soil.”

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