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Where there's a waste there's a way


10 November 2005
Southern Cross University student Rowan Faltyn has been obsessed by cow manure. Or more accurately how to reuse cow manure in a productive way.

The 26-year-old environmental science student has been working on a manure management research project at an Ettrick dairy farm, near Kyogle, as part of the final stages of his Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in environmental resource management.

The project was short-listed to the final three in the waste management section of the Environmental Student Project Awards, an annual event at Griffith University held last month.

The study, Analysing Dairy Composting, involved running cow manure from the dairy through two ponds for separation, with the solid waste mixed with straw for use as fertiliser instead of chemicals.

The project was a joint project with Richmond Landcare, which supported the study through funding for laboratory sample testing.

Mr Faltyn's interest in the project grew from his waste technology studies at SCU. He said the farmer he worked with for the project had a strong interest in sustainable farming, soil biology and composting.

"Waste management is a significant issue for dairy farmers, with manure in large amounts in the dairy and feed pad. Thorough spraying of these areas to clean them down can create run-off problems," he said.

"This project reduces waste and turns a problem into a solution. It reduces the amount of chemical fertilisers needed on the farm — which are costly with often increasing amounts needed for the same result.

"Doing something economically viable, and which can be carried out by one person on the farm is important."

In the project soybean straw bales were placed end-to-end in rows up to 50 metres long, with a turner used to break up the bales. Manure from the draining process was placed on top with subsequent turnings, temperature monitoring, watering and soil testing important to the quality of the finished compost.

Results from the three-month composting trial were positive, with Mr Faltyn emphasising that further testing in one or more year's time is also important. He is considering undertaking further research on the topic through an Honours thesis with SCU.

Photo caption: Student researcher Rowan Faltyn (right) with SCU waste technology lecturer and project supervisor Murray Cullen.

Media contact: Brigid Veale 02 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.