Poultry to play part in locking up carbon, boosting soil quality
Published:03 February 2014
Signing ceremony participants L-R Michael Kiely, Louisa Kiely, Dr Thakur Bhattarai, Stuart Larsson, Tanka Prasai, Professor Hilary Winchester, Professor Kerry Walsh and Dr Surya Bhattarai.
The poultry industry is the linchpin in plans to reduce carbon pollution while boosting soil quality.
The humble chicken’s willingness to eat a food mix containing small traces of beneficial charcoal (charred wood waste known as biochar) is at the centre of a new innovation patent which has just been licensed for commercialisation.
The patent is based on what is believed to be the world’s first fourth-generation or ‘4G’ biochar process, known as Green Chicken Carbon Smart Bio-Fertiliser.
In step one, wood waste sourced from eucalypt forest thinning and sawmill off-cuts is heated to create biochar.
Previously, biochar has simply been put directly on soil, or mixed with compost with added nutrients to create fertiliser.
The extended and patented ‘4G’ process now involves modified biochar being mixed in with chicken feed at poultry farms.
Not only do the chickens thrive on the new mix, but their copious amounts of manure can be turned into super rich fertiliser pellets.
Creation of pellets also reduces the amount of wet poultry litter which would otherwise leak nitrogen and phosphorous into the atmosphere.
‘Green Chicken’ will be officially launched at the National Carbon Farming Conference in Canberra on March 19-21 this year.
CQUniversity has signed an agreement for natural fertiliser maker Mara Seeds to access the innovation patent for proof of concept and future commercialisation. Mara Seeds General Manager Stuart Larsson was on hand for the milestone.
Carbon Farmers of Australia directors Michael and Louisa Kiely also attended the signing ceremony as their organisation brokered the agreement and is an active partner in the project.
Meantime, CQUniversity will continue research links first established by Professor David Midmore.
Postgraduate researcher Tanka Prasai has been working with feed mills and chicken producers to create benefits for the poultry industry, farm soils and the environment.
Supervised by Professor Midmore and Dr Surya Bhattarai, Tanka has been using biochar and other feed additives, litter additives, smart composting and high quality granulation of poultry litter in an integrated way.
This not only manages the loss of ammonia and phosphorus, but also boosts bird growth rates and gains in meat yield – a win-win for the poultry industry.
When applied into soil for plant production, the value-added poultry fertiliser also promotes carbon capture, reducing the environmental effects of greenhouse gas.
“When biochar is incorporated as an additive in the chicken feed and in high-value biofertiliser, there are huge benefits all round both in the growth of bird, and the value of the manure,” Tanka says.
In related news, CQUniversity is offering the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Security, with details via http://bit.ly/1ehmT9Z .