In an effort to improve its compost output, Australian Native Landscapes purchased a new windrow turner which can handle larger piles.
Patrick Soars launched agricultural supply company Australian Native Landscapes Pty Limited (ANL) in 1971.
ANL began operations as a landscape contractor and was involved in multiple projects such as IBM Headquarters, Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour and the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.
“Back in the 1970s, there wasn’t really a concept of organic waste – it was considered a residue from the forestry and agricultural industries,” Patrick explains.
In the 80s, the company experienced significant growth and was required to supply large development contracts with organic soil, mulches and compost.
Patrick says that at the time, there was a huge end market for high-quality compost products. ANL needed a vast feedstock of organic materials to compost to meet the demand, but at the time, more than a decade before the NSW EPA would be created, the infrastructure wasn’t there.
“As the industry and government moved to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfill, we were able to take advantage of the increased collection infrastructure,” Patrick says.
ANL now operates 15 sites across NSW, with seven large-scale compost facilities throughout NSW from the Sydney Metro, Central West NSW and the NSW North Coast.
ANL has invested significantly into its Badgerys Creek facility, which uses a static pile aerobic windrow composting system to process the organic feedstock.
The company now produces 500,000 tonnes of compost annually, operating as a manufacturer, producer and retail distributor of horticultural products. The compost is used on redevelopment projects, sold in retail outlets and in agricultural outputs.
According to Australian Government data, Australia’s soils are among the most nutrient poor and unproductive in the world, meaning farmers will often need to use compost to regenerate the soils to promote regrowth.
Patrick says that even in the middle of a drought, farmers are still using ANL’s compost to return the organic nutrients back into their soils.
“ANL strives to ensure its certified products can support Australian industries, which is why we use the best practices and tools available,” he adds.
A need for quality equipment is what drove ANL to purchase a Backhus A60 XL Windrow Turner for the company’s Badgerys Creek site from equipment supplier GCM Enviro. The company had purchased a Backhus 17.60 around seven years ago and were looking to expand further.
ANL chose the machine to improve control over its windrow system, which composts piles of organic waste over a 12 to 14-week period without splitting it into an active or maturation phase.
After seeing the success of the original machine, ANL purchased the larger A60 XL, which is able to handle piles of up to 2.6 metres tall, 6.3 metres wide and turn up to 4600 cubic metres of compost per hour. Patrick estimates that there has been a 30 per cent increase in production since they started using the second machine.
“We have found that keeping the compost in one windrow over a longer period of time provides us with a nutrient-rich end product that we’re able to turn and manage in a much more controlled manner,” Patrick says.
“The Backhus Windrow Turner allows us to exercise greater control over the piles. We’re able to add water or nutrients to the compost and mix the various products together with the machine.
“With the addition of these machines, the Badgerys Creek site is now producing more than 600,000 cubic metres of organic composts annually.”
With the introduction of NSW food organics in garden organics kerbside collection, ANL has also made use of the Backhus’ turning capabilities and variable rotor speed to introduce food waste as part of its feedstock.
The machine is able to use a more vigorous method of turning the piles to ensure the food waste and other materials are properly composted while still allowing ANL to perform lighter lifts of the compost to avoid breaking down the particle size in the process.
Patrick says Backhus’ design is simplistic but refined compared with similar machines, providing operators with excellent visibility and easy to use controls.
“By using some of the best tools available to us, we’re able to provide our customers with a product we can be proud of,” he says.
“Our passion for supplying the best possible compost we can produce is what has helped us grow from a small family business to where we are today.
“The team at GCM Enviro has been great, always willing to lend us a hand if we need it.
“We liked their support so much it was one of the reasons we purchased the second machine from them.”