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The Power of Waste Many Tasmanian businesses and industries could use organic waste to produce their own energy in the form of biogas. The technology is nothing new – rising electricity and gas prices have driven many regions such as Asia and Europe to produce biogas for gas, heat and power over the past several decades. Dr Jayant Keskar of CRC CARE Pty Ltd is coming to Tasmania this month to show examples of how biogas can be used on the single household scale right up to a neighbourhood or industry scale to provide heat and power. ‘It’s possible to get a business entirely off the grid by converting to biogas, provided sufficient organic waste with greater biomethane potential is available,’ said Jayant. ‘Effectively closing the loop by using waste organic matter to produce your own energy makes a business extremely competitive. It also buffers it from rising costs,’ ‘Many Tasmanian sectors produce enough waste products to effectively replace substantial amount of gas and power. The by-product, ‘digestate’ is also a benefit: nutrient-rich organic fertiliser,’ said Jayant. ‘Once people see what’s possible they realise how much value they’ve been overlooking by seeing waste as something to be disposed of.’ Anyone who produces organic waste in any quantity – dairy farmers, livestock producers, restaurants or councils collecting household organic waste – could process that waste in a clever biodigester to generate biogas and organic fertiliser. ‘Biogas production is a well-established technology widely used in Asia and Europe. There are more than13,000 operational biogas plants in Europe, with more than 7,500 plants in Germany alone, for example,’ said Jayant.

Biogas Basics Seminar Learn how biogas can benefit you and your industry Monday 20 October 2014 Cradle Coast Authority Offices, Burnie See the upcoming events section of this edition of Across the Paddocks for full details on the one-day seminar. Please register your interest with Tom O’Malley, CCNRM on 0408 055 272. ‘Australia is seeing the same increases in electricity and natural gas that have already driven many Asian countries to look for alternative energy sources. There, many households have their own biogas digesters in the backyard that use food waste, garden waste and animal waste to produce enough gas for their cooking needs.’ Large-scale biogas systems can generate electricity or the biogas can be purified and compressed to produce BIOCNG that can be sold in cylinders and used as vehicular fuel. Largescale plants in Sweden have allowed more than 100,000 petrol cars to be converted to run on biogas. They call this Bio-C Energy to distinguish it from the fossil-fuel gas, which is called natural gas. ‘We’d love to install a demonstration plant in Tasmania at any scale. A plant with 10-20 kgs of food waste could generate one cubic meter of biogas,’ said Jayant. ‘I see the benefits to biogas in terms of what I call the E3 approach.’ The E3 approach encompasses energy, economic and environmental factors: Energy: biogas is generated on-site and directly utilised as such or for electricity generation Economic: increased revenue, production of

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organic fertiliser and digestate, reduced gate fees for landfill and potential use in a carbon farming initiative (Environment Reduction Fund) Environmental: reduced carbon emissions, reduced fossil fuel consumption, and when using digestate as fertiliser, you can reduce the cost of industrial fertiliser (both the costs of making and transporting it) A co-digestion plant is useful where waste from various businesses can be treated in a central digestion plant and the by-products such as gas, electricity, waste heat and digestate can be shared.

About CRC Care Dr Jayant Keskar works for CRC Care in South Australia and offers extensive experience of more than 22 years mostly within the anaerobic digestion, renewable energy and biotechnology sector. CRC Care offer biogas consulting services. They can do everything from consulting through to information gathering, testing, feasibility studies and set-up of biogas systems. Dr. Keskar can be contacted by phone on (08) 8302 5036 or email: Jayant.Keskar@crccare.com

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This publication is supported by Cradle Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government


Eaten out of house and home What’s cute and furry, comes out at night, and can destroy a farmer’s livelihood? It may be hard to believe, but the answer is wallabies and possums. Jonathan Knox (Project Officer (Browsing Animal Management) Wildlife Management Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment – DPIPWE) is an expert in this area. Jonathan said, ‘Wallabies and possums can eat so much pasture they can put a farmer out of business. Since it’s a creeping problem often people don’t notice how much pasture they’re losing.’ Beef farmer, Martin Gaffney, was amazed when he realised how much he was losing through sharing his pastures with wildlife. ‘I talked to someone at the Browsing Animal Management Unit at DPIPWE and he estimated I was losing something like $50,000 every year on my 300 acre property.’ ‘The big realisation about how much I was losing came when the DPIPWE guy put a protective cage over a patch of my pasture and I saw how much was being eaten by wallabies. That was the big wake-up call for me.’ ‘Damage by browsing animals can exceed $100,000 per year for substantial farms that have good habitat for wallabies,’ said Jonathan. ‘While we’re at a property we can use our computer program to estimate the potential costs and benefits of a wallaby management plan and help the owners to work out the best plan for their property.’

Browsing Animal Management Program. ‘When I saw what I was losing I was very motivated to look into control measures. It turns out that the first thing I need to do is to put in wallaby fencing.’ said Martin. Having recently completed the Cradle Coast NRM Farm Planning Program, which enabled Martin to take a holistic approach to managing his property, he realised that he had to rethink what he was currently doing. ‘I won’t be able to afford fertiliser for the next couple of years but the fencing, at least, is a long-term solution,’ said Martin. ‘The main thing farmers need to do is to invest in some excellent fencing and make sure it’s installed the right way. A well-constructed and maintained fence can greatly improve the productivity of a farm and pay for itself within several years,’ said Jonathan. Farmers can significantly cut costs when they work together and join up fences with their neighbours.

What’s the answer?

It’s essential to plan a good route for fencing, to avoid difficult creek crossings and trees that might damage a fence, and preparing a firm, level base.

DPIPWE promotes an integrated approach to the management of wallabies, through their

Some wallabies can go through inadequate mesh. Mesh must be robust and have enough

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wire. 11-90-15 with at least 2.4 mm wire is recommended.

or contact Jonathan Knox on 0417 754 590 for a hard copy or a farm visit.

To prevent wallabies from going under the fence, and to make it more difficult for wombats, a mesh with a pre-attached footer/ apron is an easy-to-erect, low maintenance option. Separate mesh or netting can also be attached as a footer. Electric offsets 125 mm from the ground have been used successfully but regular maintenance is essential to maintain the necessary high voltage. If you have wombats, top swung heavy gates can be installed in any holes they make, which the wombats can push open but the wallabies can’t. ‘A hole every 400 metres means you may as well not have started at all. It can be very demoralising if you don’t start with a wellplanned integrated program from the start,’ said Jonathan. How soon can you expect results? For each kilometre you’ve fenced and knocked the population back, you’ll typically be rewarded with 6.7 hectares of pasture back in just the first 100 metres from the bush edge. Feed will often recover immediately and replace expensive silage. ‘The Program promotes efficient and effective shooting in conjunction with fencing. Poisoning can be another useful strategy, especially at the time you build the fence to reduce existing populations so they don’t pressure the fence and so they’re not trying to live separated from their source of feed,’ said Jonathan. Want to find out more? Information on all aspects of wallaby and possum management can be found in the information booklet: Managing production losses due to wildlife on farms, available free from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/ Information-booklet-web.pdf www.cradlecoastnrm.com

This publication is supported by Cradle Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government


Weeds and wallabies – it’s a big learning curve becoming a small landholder While upping stakes and moving to live on a big piece of land in Tasmania can seem like a dream come true for lots of our new arrivals, some find that there’s a lot more to the lifestyle than they’d anticipated. Cradle Coast NRM (CCNRM) has been working with small landholders to help them work out what they need to know about and do on their properties to keep their land healthy and avoid future problems. Tom O’Malley, Regional Landcare Facilitator for CCNRM has been running the Small Landholder Property Management Planning Program this year, with participants taking part over three weekends.

what’s going on. I’ve done a few short courses now and want to do more. They’re a great way to learn more about my own property but also to help find a network of people who are happy to answer questions and give advice.’

‘A recent survey shows that small landholders or ‘lifestylers’ own significant amounts of land in our region. We want to see them actively managing natural resources so they don’t unwittingly create problems or suffer from preventable disasters,’ said Tom.

‘I did a course on pasture pests with Spencer Gibbs. That was great because now I can walk around the paddocks and identify the grubs and I know what to do if I ever see signs of trouble. Previously I wouldn’t even have noticed any of that and I could have ended up with huge problems.’

The three most common NRM issues reported by landholders are weeds, introduced pest animals and pasture reduction through native animal grazing. Philip and Kerry Jewell took part in the most recent CCNRM Program. Philip said, ‘I grew up on a farm in NSW and, after experiencing droughts in NSW and Victoria and living the last three years in Kununurra, my family and I decided that a priority for us was living in a place with secure access to water.’ Philip, an engineer, moved to his 72 acre Preston property at the beginning of 2014 with wife Kerry, daughter Laura and son Thomas. ‘I got involved with Landcare when I moved here. I saw a few NRM courses advertised and got onto various mailing lists to keep an eye on

‘The Small Landholder Property Management Planning Program course was run over three Sundays. There were people from 14 different properties there, from Railton to Smithton. All of them have moved to Tasmania from other places. At the moment everyone has the same major problems of weeds and wallabies. ‘The course is a combination of pasture walks and some classroom time, which was very conversational – lots of talking with likeminded people. I learned a lot from the skills and experiences of other people in the class. I enjoyed the pasture walks and we continue to meet now the course has concluded to visit each others’ properties all over the North West. This enables us continue the learning opportunities and to network – I like finding ideas I can use on my own land.’ ‘At the moment we’re agisting neighbours’

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stock on half our land, and we’re leaving the other half as a nature reserve. It’s the last native grassland in the area and part of the largest single stand of white gums on the planet, so we want to preserve it as part of a wildlife corridor from the Dial Range State Forest to Black Bluff. There are more adjoining Conservation Covenants and Land for Wildlife properties here than anywhere else in Tasmania. Soon we’d like to develop an eco-tourism venture and run traditional skills workshops, a farm stay program and employ permaculture principles. But first, though, we need to put up wallaby fencing.’ ‘The Program helped me to see how much damage wallabies were doing to my land. They mow all the grass down and bring a lot of weeds on to the property. We’ve decided that they can share half the property with the other wildlife, but we don’t want them on the pasture.’ ‘I’d thoroughly recommend the Program,’ said Philip. ‘It’s enabled us to be better neighbours. By learning how to identify things like weeds and pests we’re less likely to unwittingly pass these problems on.

For more information on future Small Landholder programs contact Tom O’Malley at Cradle Coast NRM on (03) 6431 6285 or tomalley@cradlecoast.com If you’re new to an area and haven’t found a strong network yet within the agricultural community, CCNRM can help you with ideas on how to use your land to bring in an income while also protecting native vegetation and animals.

www.cradlecoastnrm.com

This publication is supported by Cradle Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government

Profile for Cradle Coast Authority

Across the Paddocks - Edition 10  

The power of waste

Across the Paddocks - Edition 10  

The power of waste