Compost for a Farming Future


Over 10 years ago, Lakeland banana farmer, Peter Inderbitzin, began composting green waste from his farms and Cairns Regional Council Transfer Station to supplement the use of chemical fertiliser and improve the soil.

It has since become evident that the use of compost has a much wider application as the benefits have far exceeded initial expectations.

After a decade, results indicate:

  • 60% reduction in use of chemical fertiliser
  • 35% increase in production
  • 9 fold increase in soil organic matter
  • 30% reduction in water consumption
  • 19% saving in energy cost

In 2019, the Commonwealth Government awarded RDA Tropical North (RDATN), (then known as RDAFNQ&TS), $750,000 (GST incl) over the next three years to undertake research/analysis and conduct a feasibility study into the production of green-waste compost for use in agriculture.  (2019 Media Release HERE)

The project included a feasibility study and business case to determine whether this existing model, could be replicated along the east coast of Queensland.  The project would identify the cost/benefit to:

  • the agriculture industry;
  • the Great Barrier Reef; and
  • the disposal of green waste

    The project engaged Central Queensland University (CQU) for data collection and analysis, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) to assess the ability to replicate the process and Outsource Management (OM) to assist RDATN in engagement with growers to finalise the report.

    The project was completed in November 2022 and generally supported the above claims and concluded:

    The ‘fact check’ on the claims made for compost use at this site was overall supportive, for improved soil fertility, reduced parasitic nematode levels, increased organic matter, reduced mineral fertilizer use and improved fruit quality.”

    The findings support the proposition that, not only is composting a viable solution for the reduction of green waste, but that the reduction in water usage and chemical fertilizer was beneficial to receiving water and hence the Great Barrier Reef.

    It also found that while significant quantities of currently available green waste was already utilized, there remained significant sources of raw material for compost production.

    The final report, Executive Summary, Appendices and research documents can be found below.

    Final Reports and Appendices
    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY RPT-2022.11.01-RDA-Compost-Exec-Summary-PUBLIC.pdf
    Appendix A:  CQU  – Compost Innovation in the GBR Catchment APP-A-RSH.5087-Compost-innovation-in-the-GBR-16_03_20-PUBLIC.pdf
    Appendix B:  PwC Report APP-B-RDA-Compost-report-Appendix-v2_PwC-PUBLIC.pdf
    Appendix C:  Outsource Management (OM) Report + Appendices APP-C-211210_RDATN_Compost-for-a-Farming-Future_PUBLIC.pdf
    RDATN Disclaimer RDATN-Appendix-Disclaimer.pdf
    OM Appendix 1 OM-Appendix-1-Agribusiness-Australia_Agricultural-Inputs-for-2022.pdf
    OM  Appendix 2 OM-Appendix-2-How-to-Grow-Sunn-Hemp.pdf
    OM Appendix 3 OM-Appendix-3-Investigating-Renewable-Feedstocks…for-Generation-at-Mackay-Sugar-Limited.pdf
    OM Appendix 4 OM-Appendix-4-Compost-Pellets-Down-the-Tube-–-MRA-Consulting-Group.pdf
    OM Appendix 5 OM-Appendix-5-Project-Plan.pdf
    OM Appendix 6 OM-Appendix-6-Material-Safety-Data-Sheets.pdf
    OM Appendix 7 OM-Appendix-7-What-is-compost-worth.pdf
    OM Appendix 8 OM-Appendix-8-Corporate-Carbon-2018-Aora-Conference.pdf
    OM Appendix 9 OM-Appendix-9-QLD-announces-plans-to-use-H2O-to-produce-green-ammonia.pdf
    OM Appendix 10 OM-Appendix-10-Explainer_-How-much-landfill-does-Australia-have.pdf
    OM Appendix 11 OM-Appendix-11-Environmental-Regulatory-Update_DRAFT-QLD-Organics-Strategy.pdf
    OM Appendix 12 OM-Appendix-12-Inderbitzin-Data-Analysis_Soil-and-Leaf.pdf
    OM Appendix 13 OM-Appendix-13-Lime-Tree-Photos.pdf
    OM Appendix 14 OM-Appendix-14-Temperature-effect-on-Fusarium-oxysporum.pdf
    OM Appendix 15 OM-Appendix-15-Activity-Templates.pdf
    OM Appendix 16 OM-Appendix-16-Water-Hyacinth-Fact-Sheet.pdf
    OM Appendix 17 OM-Appendix-17-Water-Hyacinth-Photos.pdf
    OM Appendix 18 OM-Appendix-18-Mango-Plantation-Photos.pdf
    OM Appendix 19 OM-Appendix-19-Sunn-Hemp-RDE-Plan-v8.0.pdf
    OM Appendix 20 OM-Appendix-20-Grower-Workshop-Invitation-Lists.pdf
    OM Appendix 21 OM-Appendix-21-FOGO-Trial-Supports-Environment-and-Local-Business.pdf
    OM Appendix 22 OM-Appendix-22-Katek-Fertilizers.pdf