10/06/2020 - 15:23

Lithium Australia begins recycled battery fertiliser tests

10/06/2020 - 15:23

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Controlled field testing is underway near Kojonup in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt for Lithium Australia’s unique spent alkaline battery waste fertiliser product. The company is testing both the slow release nature of its product and the benefits of recycled manganese and zinc as a micro-nutrient supplement for WA’s broad acre pastoralists in a region with soils that lack these two critical nutrients.

Controlled field testing is underway near Kojonup in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt for Lithium Australia’s unique spent alkaline battery waste fertiliser product.  The company is testing both the slow release nature of its product and the benefits of recycled manganese and zinc as a micro-nutrient supplement for WA’s broad acre pastoralists in a region with soils that lack these two critical nutrients.

Lithium Australia’s 90% owned subsidiary, Envirostream Australia, will oversee the wheat-seeding trial at selected farms near Kojonup, approximately 260km southeast of Perth, WA’s capital.

Lithium Australia said that whilst rapid-release micronutrient products are commercially available in the northern hemisphere, Envirostream’s products are slow-release variants that are tailored specifically for WA’s broad acre farming needs.  WA’s wheatbelt region produces around 14 million tonnes of grain annually.

Lithium Australia is committed to a “circular” battery economy and its recycling division, Envirostream, has developed its zinc and manganese-based micro-nutrient supplement from mixed metal dust gleaned from spent, single use, disposable alkaline batteries. 

The mixed metal dust is recovered from its battery recycling facility in Victoria and agglomerated with mono-ammonium phosphate fertilizer to deliver the product used in the field trials.

Lithium Australia said Envirostream’s initial greenhouse tests show potential as a source of micro-nutrients which gave it the inspiration to step up to a full-scale field trial in the paddocks near Kojonup.

Lithium Australia said a number of different furrow treatments were deployed during the controlled seeding process completed on June 5th with harvesting at the trial site set for December this year with results expected in the new year.

Management said a site has been selected that contains soils with low pH and a deficiency in zinc, manganese and phosphate, an environment that is considered ideal for treatment with the product developed by Envirostream.

The company said it has already engaged with a number of fertiliser manufacturers with a view to developing a commercial market for the fertiliser product.

Lithium Australia Managing Director and Envirostream director, Adrian Griffin said: "Using recycled batteries to enhance fertilisers has the potential to divert toxic materials from landfill, provide the fertiliser industry with more sustainable inputs and improve crop yields. The slow-release nature of the micronutrients produced by Envirostream could prove a real advantage in terms of local crop conditions. We look forward to the outcome of the trials later this year."

 

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