Rex Harris of Piccadilly Park talks about his macadamia growing operation and the changes he has made to make his business more sustainable. In particular, he talks about cover cropping, composting and the use of biological solutions like the JPH compost turner.
Thoughts on using a JPH CT360 Windrow Turner.
Director of Production, Rockmin Compost Pty Ltd
Toowoomba , Queensland.
To whom it may concern.
My name is Chris Cameron, I currently live in South-East Queensland, and I have been working with Biological Agriculture for over 50 years, working out how best to restore productivity to our ancient and weathered Australian soils. The problem, once understood properly, is not difficult. We lack Organic Matter, many essential minerals have been leached out over the eons, and we lack beneficial soil biology in most areas.
About 20 years ago I managed to make the jump from garden scale compost making up to paddock scale, as well-made compost, and what can be blended with it, will quickly reverse most of our problems. My first major work was done with an old end loader, slow and inefficient, but effective in the end. Output with it was very low.
Over the intervening years I have worked with six different Compost Turners of varying types, American, European, Australian Factory built, Australian “home built”, and am currently using a Queensland designed and built JPH CT360, a tractor pulled, PTO driven machine.
It is quite different in design to any of the Turners I have used previously, in that it does not have a huge counterweight and hydraulics that allow the turning mechanism to stand upright for transport. Initially I felt this may be a problem if I got “bogged” in a new windrow, but after having run through, effectively, 20K tons of material I have had absolutely no problem. Without the huge counterweight the machine is light and easy to manoeuvre, the way it folds in behind the tractor for transport is quick, easy, and effective. As there is not a huge weight of machine ever up in the air, it is also far safer to work around!
With the obvious exception of using a Loader to turn windrows, every Turner I have used in the past has had a habit of throwing heavy bits forward, causing some glass breakages on the towing tractors, and needing special screens to prevent this happening, restricting somewhat the clear view of what is happening behind.
The very different “tyne and paddle” design of the JPH machine greatly reduces this and I run safely with no screen and the tractor back window open to give me the most uninterrupted view of what is happening. This is a great development!
This same drum design and layout, which is so different from the majority of Turners, is extremely efficient in doing the 3 tasks needed of a Turner: complete inversion of the windrow, rapid reduction of particle size, and even incorporation of mineral additives, if these are used. Feedlot manure, my main feedstock, can arrive in huge chunks almost as hard as concrete and these are rapidly reduced to a fine texture.
One of the best features of this machine is its extremely low power requirement! The biggest machine I used in North Queensland a monster spanning over 5M needed over 300hp to drive it, and the tractor struggled. I am pulling this JPH CT360, with a small tractor with about 80 PTO hp and its in-cab readout reports I am using barely 30% of available power for a full-sized windrow! This is exceptional!
On the service and maintenance side, everything that needs regular service is easy to see, and access. This means that maintenance is not ignored because it is too hard to do regularly.
I am delighted with this machine and would have no hesitation in recommending it, or its “brothers”, and plan on using more in the near future.
The tractor we are using, a JD6110R.
Normal windrow size, full width of machine being used, as the material settles.
Turning and watering.
Power usage indicator in tractor cabin.
Minerals ready to incorporate.
Turning in minerals.
Windrow after one incorporation pass.
Rockmin Compost Pty Ltd.
Humans tend to see the world as a solid ball of rock coated with a thin layer of soil and life. But lately, scientists have been finding out planet looks more like a wheel of cheese, one whose thick, leathery rind is perpetually gnawed and fermented by the microbes that live in the planets innards.
You would need a microscope to see the life in this subterranean biosphere, however scientists have estimated the total amount of life on Earth that exists below ground, is vast. It’s made up mostly of Soil organisms (biota), such as bacteria and their evolutionary cousins, the archaea think microscopic flora and fauna. With “Something like 70% of the total number of microbes on Earth in the soil below our feet”. The role all these organisms play in shifting carbon about the Earth is profound, you cannot begin to understand soil carbon on Earth without understanding the diversity and influence of underground life. Microbes in the soil turn over carbon, take in carbon, and breathe it out. They do amazing things to transform the soil environments, and are vital to produce health crops and livestock
There is a two-way relationship between soil biota and agricultural production. Soil organisms (biota) carry out a vital range of processes that are important for soil health and fertility in both natural and managed agricultural soils. This subterranean microscopic biosphere provides the energy and nutrients for the biota, which consume the organic matter (OM), and improve nutrient availability and soil structure. Agricultural practices can be both beneficial and detrimental to the soil biota.
Soil organisms (biota), can range in size from microscopic e.g. bacteria to centimetres (or metres Giant Gippsland Earthworm)
• Most Soil biota activity is concentrated in the top 1m of soil, but extends deeper than 50~100 m.
• Millions of organisms exist but only a fraction have been identified e.g. 5% of fungi and 3% of nematodes.
• 80 – 90% of soil biological activity is carried out by bacteria and fungi.
• Resistance to extreme changes in the soil environment increases as organisms decrease in size.
• The reproductive interval reduces with a decrease in organism size e.g. bacteria reproduce themselves in hours whilst earthworms may take weeks.
• In natural and managed farming environments a complex food web exists. These ‘predator-prey’ relationships help control the balance of species present in the soil, and the balance can be destroyed with poor farming practices.
• Studies have shown that not only does heathy Soil biota activity improve yields, it reduced the incidence of plant disease.
Life in the Soil – CSIRO Authors: VVSR Gupta, SM Neate, E Leonard – This information is based on research carried out by the Cooperative Research Centre
for Soil & Land Management and other national and international institutions. More information on Soil Biota can be found on the University of Adelaide web page:
Deep life – Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory announce the results of the 10-year study suggesting 70% of bacteria and archaea exist in the subsurface of the Earth.
Farm Manager & Vet Robyn talks about the farming business case for composting
In the area around Robyn’s dairy farm in south east Queensland compost was rarely used in commercial agriculture, especially in dairy and feed lots with high manure surpluses. In this video Robyn talks about the challenges and lessons she has learnt about using manure surplus, to increase soil quality and fertility in a sustainable way. She believes that compost is the most effective way of improving soil long term with clearly beneficial effects on soil quality, stock health and farm profitability.
Robyn also addresses standard modern Australian agricultural practices such as the heavy use of mineral additives and chemical fertilisers, frequent soil tillage, fast crop rotations, and huge shifts in land and how this has greatly decreased soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, leading to bio diversity loss, faster soil erosion, and pollution of groundwater and air.
Robyn is a vocal advocate of the importance of composting is an tool having witnessed first hand how healthy soil creates healthy plants, which creates healthy plants, stock and humans. The benefits of compost are clear including: improving drainage and nutrient availability in clay soils, improving water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils, helping neutralise pH of both acidic and alkaline soils and lastly that many toxins are broken down in the composting process, while others such as heavy metals in city soils become locked up and less available to plants when compost is added.
This is the story of the real journey of compost discovery, the effects and benefits and watching the farm and it’s live stock and the herds milk and health change over the years. Seeing with her own eye that the cattle preferred to graze in the paddocks that had been treated with compost and would walk past other grass to do so.
Ged a dairy farmer from Tamborine in Queensland answers questions about composting and the JPH Equipment CT360 Windrow Turner,
This is a great video where Ged talks about how he got into composting, the lessons he has learnt and why he would recommend that you compost.
Other questions covered include
- How hard is composting to do?
- How would you start composting?
- What resources do I need to begin composting ?
- What space do I need to compost?
- What tools & machinery do I need?
- Do I need a turner to start?
- Talking about the CT360 compost turner
- What is the CT360 compost turner like to use
- Have you owned any other turners?
- CT360 Watering, Gearbox and Construction
- What type of Tractor do I need
- Do you recommend using a watering unit
- How long does it take to make compost
- How often do I need to work on the windrow?
- Can you store the compost?
- What effect does the composting have on your farm
- How do I use/apply the compost
- How long will it take to work
- How much does it cost to do
- Is composting really worth it Time, Effort and Cost? fertilisers are easier aren’t they
- Can you sell the compost?
- Sum up how the composting journey has been for you
As you most likely know Compost is a natural soil improver made from broken-down organic matter, and it contains three things of vital importance to farmers. Humus, that’s the dark spongy material that makes good soil the colour of chocolate, Recycled plant nutrients and most importantly billions of microscopic lifeforms which create a healthy soil ecosystem (Read more about the soil food web).
Healthy soil creates healthy plants, which creates healthy humans. And to this end, composting is an important tool. Some of the benefits of compost include: improving drainage and nutrient availability in clay soils. Improveing water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils, helping neutralise pH of both acidic and alkaline soils and lstly many toxins are broken down in the composting process, while others such as heavy metals in city soils become locked up and less available to plants when compost is added.
Adam Willson from Soil Systems Australia, talks about the decline in Australian soil health
The building of soil carbon in Australian farmland should be regarded as a an national priority because it the bast way of sequestering atmospheric carbon, soil carbon also holds significant amounts of water, reduces erosion across catchments, increases biodiversity, increases nutrient use efficiency and is a key to increasing yields and food quality. With Australian climate already experiencing temperature extremes impacting vast areas across the continent the need for implementing soil carbon building practices is urgent. To begin this process both the Australian government, the organic industry and conventional counterparts need to immediately start baselining organic carbon in soils. Carbonlink is one Australian company that is developing a soil carbon monitoring process and can measure deeper soil carbon down to 1m – Carbonlink (2015). This data is critical for establishing the effectiveness at which farming practices build soil carbon, biodiversity and resilience across the farming landscape.
All across the world there has been a dramatic decline in soil carbon levels, in particular colloidal soil humus. Deforestation, reduced pastures and meadows, continuous cropping, over cultivation and excessive use of nitrogen fertilisers have all led to reduced soil carbon levels. This carbon has left the soil as carbon dioxide, one of the 3 primary greenhouse gases, and made its way into the atmosphere and ocean (causing acidification).
Soil Systems Australia guide companies and producers with project management, agronomy, horticulture, commercial and on-farm composting, organic consultancy, dairy production, waste water management (for rendering plants & abattoirs), establishing market gardens, education and soil surveys.
Soil Systems Australia
Its’s true real Farm Profits are found in Root Depth, Not Fertilisers, watch this video with Dr Elaine Ingham to find out how you can get your plant roots go down 4 feet and more within 3 – 4 months using compost.
If you have been told that you need fertilisers because your soil is lacking nutrients to be able to grow plants, It’s not the only way, have you thought of improving the soil? The root growth shown in this video is achieved not by adding more and more fertilisers but by improving your soil. Using compost to build a balanced soil ecosystem is a smart cost effective, long term option. With healthy soils you don’t need any of these fertilisers inputs, so save your hard earned money and instead focus on building soil health using a quality compost to achieve root growth and let the soil ecosystem do all the work.
If you are a farmer you will most likely have been shown a laboratory soil test results, showing “this or that” is missing in your soil and the only option recommend to you is to apply expensive chemical fertilizers which contain that “required” nutrients to “top up” your soil. What they say seems to make sense, but chemicals like nitrogen are only one small part of a healthy, living soil. You already most likely know that chemical solutions are like expensive band aids that fix the problem now, but fade just as quickly and in the long run leaving you with more problems, like having to apply more and more of these chemicals each year and the problems keeps getting worst.
Watch this video with Dr Elaine Ingham, as she talks about how quality soil teems with a multitude of organisms, which provide all the necessary food for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eats who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.
CT Compost Turners
The fastest way to generate quality compost is via our CT Series Compost Turner/Windrow Turner has a unique “semi circle” double skinned, tunnel design, offering maximum strength and our patented drum and paddle design that efficiently breaks up and mixes your compost ingredients while providing maximum aeration and product blending. Find Out More
Dairy Australia Limited has put together a 5-page download titled “Making compost on Dairy Farms”. The Download covers compost production and how the application of compost to land can be used as a method of transforming farm organic residues to positive farm inputs.
Across the farming sector and Dairy in particular there is increasing need to improve the cost effectiveness. Over the last few years’ compost use has grown on dairy farms, as an alternative or supplement to conventional chemical fertilisers or as a means of recycling nutrients and organic wastes back on the farm.
- The Carbon to nitrogen ratio needed to maximise microbial activity and facilitate optimum composting.
- The Moisture required for the microbes to achieve the temperature levels to adequately pasteurise and fully compost the starting materials.
- Effective Aeration, to replenished the Oxygen needed to maintain the microbial activity
- Site selection & Environmental awareness, when selecting a site consider the potential for runoff, odour, groundwater reserves and movement of windborne particles. Composting is a controlled process and sites should allow for easy access and monitoring.
- Managing the composting process, covers Calculating the recipe, Making the windrows, Mixing the ingredients, Monitoring the compost, Turning and Maintaining the pile
Of particular importance is the ability to Turn the Compost, regular turning of the compost pile or windrow is vital to replenished the Oxygen needed to maintain the microbial activity and control temperature needed the for pasteurisation of pathogens and weed seeds. It is important that the turning method allows the re-positioning of outside materials to the inside (core) of the heap mixing of ingredients and breaking down of any lumps that may have been present in the original mixture
Priscilla & I purchased a JPH Compost Turner & Water Trailer in May 2017 to start our long-time dream of making Compost. After a very informative induction by Jorgen of our new JPH machinery, we began making our own compost immediately. The turner does everything plus more than I expected. The turner makes a very neat tidy row & turns every part of the compost.
The water trailer is an excellent combination, easy to tow, turn around & fill. The trailer floats across wet ground with very little footprint. I am proud to say we are marketing a top shelf compost, thanks to the excellent engineering & expert service of JPH equipment.
If you would like to know more about any JPH Equipment or OZ Turners machinery give us a call on 0411 695 335 we would love to answer your questions and help in any way that we can.
So what is soil health?
or Understanding and Managing Soil Biology
Soil health is a made up of its physical, chemical and living components, but can only be assessed by its living components, if the soil has no living components then it’s dirt. If the physical and chemical components are correctly balanced, but other factors stop the growth of life, then it is unlikely that soil could maintain a healthy status. New research has shown the critical importance of Soil health and organic carbon balance to soil health. Soil organic carbon is the main component of soil organic matter, or the broken-down remains of plant and animal life. So what is the connection between soil carbon, soil health and soil biology?
Here is the important bit
“Organic matter can not break down by itself!”
Decomposition is done by a vast army of shredders, fungal feeders, predators and herbivores that devour plant and animal matter whole, dissolve it with acids and enzymes, grind it to a paste, and suck its juices! This work is carried out beneath the surface of the soil by creatures that can number billions of organisms per gram of healthy soil, imagine one teaspoon of soil can containing up to 1 billion bacteria. That equals a mass of over two tonnes of livestock per hectare! No wonder some people talk of ‘micro herds’.
The challenge for modern farming
is to understand the needs of the ‘micro herds’
and how to best use the hard work of these creatures to
improve the health and sustainability of our farms.
Imagine a farm where most of the required soil nutrients are provided free, where workers manage pests and diseases at no cost, and where weeds no longer require the unrelenting program of expensive spraying. Right now that might sound impractical, but solid scientific research is showing that with proper management of the biological component of our soils, these objectives don’t sound so crazy.
Science has long known and understood the nature of suppressive soils. Suppressive soils resist diseases; with research is showing that we can grow massive biomass crops using only 10-20% of current nitrogen inputs; farmers are discovering a reduction in weed pressures when the underlying causes of the weeds are understood. These findings have a common explanation in soil biology.
It’s not the soil that’s weed suppressive,
Its whats living in the soil.
These benefits are coming from bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms that are controlling pathogens, fixing free nitrogen from the air, and maintaining nutritionally balanced soils. Proper management of soil biology is central to sustainable agriculture. These skills have to be learned and applied across the full range of agricultural landscapes. This book represents one step on a journey into a new way of thinking about agricultural sustainability. It provides growers with practical help to start thinking about soils as ecosystems. What is a good bug and what is bad? How many is enough, too much or too little? What do these bugs tell me? And how can I adapt my management practices so that I am not working against the billions of organisms in my soil that can work for me?
There is an old saying that the best fertiliser is the farmer’s footprints – i.e. there is nothing as valuable as having a good close look at what is happening at ground level in the paddock. Central to discovering soil biology is development of the ancient art of observation. Although most farmers feel there is not enough time in the day, it is hoped that a focus on soil biology will encourage growers to climb down from the tractor, take out a 10x lens and take a really good look at what is going on down where it matters, in the soil. What changes are happening seasonally? How has a particular activity impacted on bug numbers? What can I do to boost their numbers? What benefits can I observe from looking after the micro herds?
The pressure from declining terms of trade has promoted a quantity mindset with quality in second place. That pressure threatens to push farms beyond their productive capacity with resulting declines in productivity, rises in pest and disease pressure, and a range of off-site environmental impacts such as sediment or nutrient export to waterways. Managing for quality as well as quantity depends on improved understanding of the soil as an ecosystem. Such knowledge will support landholders’ aspirations to farm sustainably and leave the land in as good or better condition than when they took over.
Compost builds a healthy soil with healthy biological function will produce healthy food and healthy livestock. It may not produce greater quantities of food or livestock, but it can produce comparable quantity with greater quality.