WORLD FIRST FERTILISER IS GROUNDS FOR GOOD
When gardeners are asked “how do you take your coffee?” they might soon be answering: “I take it straight to my garden” thanks to an innovation by Neutrog Australia and its project partners.
Neutrog Australia Managing Director Angus Irwin says its Human Beans™ – Grounds For Good product trial which will divert coffee waste from development partner OTR’s stores across South Australia away from landfill by converting it into fertiliser could readily grow into applications for horticulture and agriculture.
And something that won’t surprise anyone who relies on a morning cup of coffee to get the day off to a great start, coffee ground-based fertilisers could be a game changer.
“It’s universally agreed that bees love caffeine. Caffeine is also recognised for its potential for inhibiting nematodes, improving sick soils while also repelling pests like slugs and snails. These are all attributes not normally available in a fertiliser.” Angus Irwin, MD Neutrog Australia Neutrog have had coffee grounds on the radar for more than eight years, but the difficulty has been to find a way to effectively pick up the bulk that would be required. The opportunity of working with Foodbank and its relationship with OTR, will look to take coffee grounds fertiliser from being something of a novel product produced for sustainability purposes to a level where it has its place in both the home garden and in agriculture.
Head of R&D at Neutrog, microbiologist Dr Uwe Stroeher point out that, “used coffee grounds are a unique biological input, but unprocessed can negatively impact plant growth. What releases all of their potential is the process of composting the raw coffee grounds. From a microbiology perspective, I’m really interested to see if the trial of Human Beans fertiliser, can further explore coffee’s ability to inhibit pathogenic microbes whilst at the same time proliferating the number of beneficial microbes.” A recent Planet Ark report stated that Australians consume around 6 billion coffees per year with the waste created by our favourite hot beverages being added into landfill almost immediately. In South Australia alone, an estimated 14,500 tonnes of coffee waste go to landfill each year. The Human Beans™ – Grounds For Good product trial aims to break this cycle by instead collecting the waste and converting it into fertiliser, which will be sold in retail outlets for use in home gardens and, on a larger scale. Part proceeds from sales will be donated to Foodbank SA to help expand its services to families in need. Each 1 kilo pack sold will put five meals on the table of those in need.
When Neutrog were looking at the potential for Human Beans in a commercial application Mr Irwin says, “At Neutrog we work closely with producers in agriculture, horticulture and viticulture and we know that what they want from a fertiliser is consistency. For a producer, consistency in a fertiliser input results in reliable, uniform growth across their crop and this is key in achieving the optimal outcome.’’ Neutrog products are manufactured from a composted chicken manure base and are highly regarded for the enormous amount of work done with chicken growers so the consistency of the product can be ensured from the outset. There are very few other sources of organic material where you can get that level of consistency, but coffee is one. Coffee is ground to a fine powder and as such, you immediately gain uniformity of the material. And once composted – their full potential is unlocked. “Our Human Beans™ project is a way of reducing large amounts of waste becoming landfill by creating a sustainable alternative that will benefit not only the retailer and customer, but also the environment and the community. If a customer purchases a coffee per day and every so often, buy a pack of fertiliser worth the same amount – they can feel good knowing are doing their bit for the planet and those in need in our community.”
Greg Pattison (Foodbank), Angus Irwin (Neutrog) and Joann Skene (OTRGive) at the launch of Human Beans – Grounds for Good