Friday, April 28, 2017

Zoysia Seed - Compadre and Zenith - UNAVAILABLE in AUSTRALIA

We have been lead to believe by the US supplier Patten Seeds in the last quarter of 2016 - that seed of both varieties would be available in Australia for use in 2016/ 2017 summer planting periods, through sales to a single nominated importer in Australia.

This story - saga maybe is better- developed from late 2016.  Through numerous updates and apparent recleaning plus further seed testing it festered along over many months, with an expectation that seed would be able to meet Australian biosecurity requirements and market quality requirements, and ship to Australia.

Our business continued to inform users, based on expectations that seed would make the grade and get shipped.

As April rolled around it had reached the stage where use in northern Australia was about the only place where sowing was considered possible, even there growth would be in a period of much cooler nights and predicted to be much slower such that waiting for warmer weather in August / September might be a better option.

However, the Australian importer has been informed recently that seed would not be coming to Australia at this time - it did not make the quality cut for import.

So all potential clients ........... it is NOT going to happen anytime soon - availability of both varieties in Australia is still some time away.  Do not be misled by overseas or international web sites offering zoysia seed for sale at this time - it is unlikely to be acceptable for use in Australia, and offers are really directed at US spring sowing options.

New season's production is likely to be harvested by June/ July and maybe this seed might get to Australia by the Australian temperate regions spring sowing period.

We are keen to assist potential growers of this class turf from seed, as we think it offers many advantages, both in quality of turf and costs, albeit with more time required to develop a full turf cover compared to laying full turf sod.  Most of our previous purchasers are extremely impressed with the outcome, independent of whether Zenith or Compadre  variety was used.

As users and promoters of zoysia turf in Australia it is a significant setback to get so seriously screwed around by the major seed producer in the US who seems to not acknowledge that there is burgeoning demand outside of the US market including Australia.  If seed is not produced that market will die, yet the specialised and quality production areas cannot meet demand  of a quality product for the Australian market!

We hope to keep the users and potential users informed, but it is unlikely much news will be available before June or July.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through Agriculture

29 March 2017
This year, more grain will be harvested than at any time in history. And yet, in this era of plenty, one in nine people do not have enough food to eat. Another two billion may eat, but their meals lack the nutrition necessary for proper health and development. Rapid population growth, dietary shifts towards meat and dairy products, and expanding food production are putting enormous pressure on our ecosystems. If these trends continue, we will be surpassing our planetary boundaries.

And yet, it is not too late to reshape agriculture and food systems to better feed the world and deliver sustainable development. No doubt, governments must play a critical role, but it is not their responsibility alone. It requires an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society, and business must be at the heart of this endeavour. I would like to highlight five priority areas where action is particularly urgently required to shift to more sustainable food systems.

First, we need greater investment, particularly in developing countries where the need and potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production are greatest. This would help feed growing populations sustainably, while creating jobs and incomes across rural areas.

Second, we have to make sure that smallholder farmers, who produce nearly 70% of all food consumed worldwide, are at the heart of all our efforts. Governments and the private sector can and must form innovative partnerships with farmers’ organizations, small farmers, and local agribusinesses, providing access to better seeds, sustainable farming techniques, and modern technologies.

Third, we must ensure that agriculture and food systems become nutrition-smart, because it’s not just about the amount of food we grow, it’s also about the type of food that we consume. Evidence shows that nutrition is crucial for economic growth as better nourished populations are more productive.

Fourth, we need food systems that produce more food but with fewer resources. This requires enforcing policies that promote responsible natural resource management and prevent the loss of natural habitats, forests and biodiversity. It is crucial that businesses source, process and manage resources efficiently to meet growing demand, while preserving our environment and climate.

Fifth, we must seize the moment to push for climate-smart agriculture and food systems. Cutting down agriculture’s climate footprint and shifting towards renewable energy sources will not only help avert climate catastrophe, but also create new opportunities for investment, growth and employment.

I have set out an ambitious agenda. With courage, vision, and bold leadership from every sector, we can move decisively towards truly sustainable food systems and agriculture. We have no time to waste. So let us turn aspiration into action and build a food secure, sustainable, and prosperous world for everybody.

Copy of presentation by Kofi Annan [former UN Head] to the Forum for the Future of Agriculture.

Agriculture [ and horticulture] has had a lot of activity of late with some very successful harvest outcomes around the world, and a trend to finally develop and use some new genetic tools for gains in performance of new varieties, while GM related developments are thriving, even if use can be curtailed in a number of countries [ think the EU], and it is using new technology avidly [ drones, precision agriculture etc].  And importantly, a new cohort of clever young students are again choosing agriculture as a career of choice.  But this has to translate into real improvements in African agriculture where need is still high.  If the continent can be a leader in small scale finance it can improve agriculture too! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Wet Season 2017

Certainly been a very wet season across most of north Australia, in contrast to the past few seasons.

In Darwin there has been few dry days since Christmas 2016, and among the wet days some VERY wet run of days, with a few 3-4 day periods exceeding 150- 200 mm totals, with some locations receiving double that.

Really only been one notable cyclone across the north coast areas of Australia with another cyclone a small Category 1 in the lower reaches of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  The blow that went across north of the north coast of the Top End was most of the time a tropical depression but there was strong winds and a lot of rain, with a cyclone declared once the system moved west into the Timor Sea, and then landfall happened as a Category 2 system in the north of WA between Wyndham / Kalumburu.  Relatively minor damage occurred thankfully from both systems.

The wet season is far from over, and it is still raining with showers and storms predicted for the Top End this week and into next week.  It is still too early to think there is no chance of another cyclone.

Importantly, soil moisture and aquifer recharge has been steadily occurring, and many of the shallow local aquifers are overflowing with excess being discharged as surface flow.  Of considerable importance the Darwin River dam has overflowed and is actually overflowing this week again for the 2nd or 3rd time this wet season.  A full dam going into the dry is a critical and positive factor for local water supply.

Elsewhere.......the mighty Ord Dam is seriously overflowing..........with water likely to flow over the spillway for some months yet.  Last data I checked, the amount of water in the main dam was more than 153% of design capacity, up over 72% from this time last year.  There will be some great photos no doubt of this event.

Livestock prices are still very good, and there are some mostly positive changes for cattle weights going into the Indonesian market.  Local stock producers are generally very positive over these changes but supply is a lot have already been sold in earlier years and replacements have been slower to arrive.

A good wet season generally is a positive feature in the north.  Now lets look forward to a great dry season.  I am sure most residents would like to see and appreciate some cooler and drier weather over the next month or so as it certainly has been hot and wet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NEW - Bee Safe Insect Control

A recently announced Australian product has proven effective for insect control in macadamias while also allowing bee pollinators to remain active and effective.

The product is derived from blue pea - Clitoria ternatea a tropical legume with a blue flower that thrives on heavy black soils in tropical areas.

A regional Australian company behind a game-changing bio insecticide that is safe for bees and other beneficial insects has secured funding to ensure its production remains on home soil.
Innovate Ag from Wee Waa in northern New South Wales has spent 15 years developing Sero-X, a pesticide using peptides from the butterfly pea legume as its active ingredient.
Last year the product was used under permit on macadamia crops and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority recently registered it for use by cotton growers.

The company this week announced a partnership deal with the Belgium based Biological Products of Agriculture (Bi-PA) to help commercialise its invention and distribute it globally.
There is a lot of science behind the product and it is worthwhile knowing about it for use where bees are important and active.  That may include vegetables.
Innovate Ag's project director Nick Watts said Sero-X had huge potential for improving the environmental sustainability and ethical production of food and fibre globally.
"The secret behind this innovative product comes straight from nature itself in the form of cyclotides," Mr Watts said.
"Cyclotides are peptides, or mini-proteins, that are naturally found in plants and have a range of biological activities, including insecticidal and antimicrobial."
They also have great pharmaceutical potential.
"Footy players have given peptides a bad name, but they are fantastic, potent natural compounds that can perform all sorts of functions," Mr Watts said.
Sero-X is already shaping up as a game changer in the macadamia industry which relies on honey bees for pollination but is susceptible to heavy losses from insect pests.

Until now, growers could lose up to 50 per cent of their crop if they did not use broad spectrum synthetic pesticides, Macadamia Industry Board agronomist Neil Innes said.
"There's more reliance on less specific, more broader spectrum synthetic pesticides which have a lot more affect on our pollinators," Mr Innes said.
"There's three basic pesticides and they all have major constraints and it's a big juggling act to not damage pollinators, moving hives around lots of growers have had issues with bee kills."

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Biofumigation - Is it An Option?

Biofumigation is relatively new, although a few growers have been involved for maybe 10 years plus here in Australia.  Many that trial the concept are vegetable growers with strong pressure from soil borne diseases or nematodes on their operations that can be controlled at times, but with expensive agrochemicals.  However, there is concern that the products might disappear due to regulatory issues.

The idea of using biofumigation then becomes a viable option to test / evaluate and maybe, implement.

Both nematodes and some soil borne diseases have been controlled / managed successfully, and areas in SW WA, Tasmania and Victoria are actively engaged while R and D is also occurring in SE Queensland areas eg Lockyer Valley, a big vegetable growing area.  There is also some evidence of effects on seed in the soil and small seedlings. 

Essentially it involves using highly specific cover crops that are mulched into the ground.  The factor that offers the help is the production of highly complex sulfur compounds that act as seed and seedling, disease and nematode “killers” with these compounds released during the cutting and maceration  by incorporation into the top 50 – 200mm of the ground where most of the target organisms are present.

Probably too complex to discuss here in detail, but more information is readily available.

This offers a good overview of the technology, and there are more farmer fact sheets available from a number of sources.

The Italians are very active in R and D and moving steadily towards wider use of the techniques, as are some other European areas, with Australia and NZ also active.

Unfortunately, not so much development seems to be occurring in warmer regions eg subtropical and tropical areas, where some of the species used may not be so easily grown.

More sophisticated technology used on the farm, once again.  Very cunning application of a simple technology.

A recent webinar should be available to view in the next week or so - the technology is worth investigating for growers of vegetables and similar crops.  It might also have applicaton for turf crops, as commercial products made of pelletted crop materials are also becoming available.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Exotic Invasive Ants

Exotic invasive ants

24 January, 2017
The Plant Biosecurity CRC is involved with stakeholders around the country in tackling the problem of exotic invasive ants. Here is an overview about the problem in Australia.

The invasive ant problem

Exotic invasive ants are an environmental and social amenity pest with the potential to cause significant negative impacts on Australia’s unique biodiversity and to human health. Australia’s National Biosecurity Committee has identified exotic invasive ants as high priority, and they have been placed on the national priority pest list endorsed by the Plant Health Committee.
There are many types of exotic invasive ant species which have been detected in Australia. Those that are of most concern include:
  • Yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes)
  • Tropical fire ant (Solenopsis geminata)
  • Electric ant (Wasmannia auropunctata)
  • Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)
  • African Big-Headed ant (Pheidole megacephala)
  • Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
  • Browsing ant (Lepisiota frauenfeldi)
These ants can transform ecosystems, deplete insect life from an area and even kill small animals. Economically invasive ants can compromise eco-tourism and recreation, reduce crop yields and lead to the death of farm animals. The economic costs associated with control programs are substantial – the national cost of the red imported fire ant control program in Queensland has amounted to almost $330 million over a 16 year period.
Red imported fire ants attack ground-nesting bird chicks as they try to peck their way out of their eggs. Photo credit: Brad Dabbert,

A dead gecko being dragged away by yellow crazy ants. Photo credit: Dinakarr (CC0), via Wikimedia


The entry pathways for exotic invasive ants include sea and air cargo, imported machinery, shipping containers, nursery stock imports, international mail, imported scrap metal and air passenger baggage; however there are activities being undertaken to minimise the risk of incursions and to review current border control measures.
There are now eight separate exotic invasive ant eradication programs underway in Australia. Yellow crazy ant is considered established in Australia, and so not able to be eradicated, and is managed by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy.

National plan

The National Biosecurity Committee has agreed to the development of a national plan to prevent, prepare and respond to exotic invasive ant incursions and detections. This includes the establishment of a national surveillance program.
Achieving this requires the development of a comprehensive research, development and extension plan to identify and address gaps in research needs. Additionally, the plan will support decisions around allocation of resources for effective exotic invasive ant surveillance operations and the development of risk-based approach to surveillance.
Ant specialists from agriculture and environment agencies, researchers, international experts and the Invasive Species Council met in November 2016. This workshop was the first meeting of Australian and international experts to develop a national Tramp Ant Biosecurity Plan and to identify key research needs for national surveillance activities.
The workshop was organised by the Plant Biosecurity CRC on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in response to the increasing number, currently eight, of emergency response plans underway for exotic invasive ants.
The next step will be the compilation and analysis of the outputs from the workshop to be used in the development of a draft national biosecurity plan for exotic invasive ants. The draft plan will be considered by the National Biosecurity Committee in early 2017.
You can read the communique from the workshop here.
The item above came from the CRC on Biosecurity.
This is very relevant across northern Australia, including many urban areas.  Vigilance in managing ants is vital.
However, while there are some excellent products available to really knock over colonies of ants through accumulation of insecticides in the nest, so many homeowners and property managers do not take that step to actually do it. The process is relatively easy and small amounts of insecticides do a great job.

Watch out for denuded areas, often a sure sign of established colonies - in urban areas it can be denuded areas of turf / grass.  Closer inspection usually shows ant access spots or nests.  Then add modest amounts of suitable ant bait.  And watch for more!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

China Bans 100 of Current Golf Courses

It might seem strange to western democratic society, but the Peoples' Republic of China has now banned 100 of the existing cohort of Golf Courses - gone, no longer available!

There had been some prior "noise" about the issue but suddenly last week - it was announced this would actually happen.  Golf courses are reputedly numbering around 693 in China, with many developed after 2004.

I saw it mentioned in Singapore media, where there is also some activity on this issue, with the Singapore government recently announcing [ early January 2017] resumption of golf courses near Jurong for new transport developments, to occur from 2018, hence their interest.

However, the Asian media more broadly quickly picked up on the Chinese moves with a number of articles appearing in on line searches.

The story goes somewhat like this - 

China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday the courses were closed for improperly using groundwater, arable land or protected land within nature reserves. It said authorities have imposed restrictions on 65 more courses.
China banned the development of new golf courses in 2004, when it had fewer than 200. Since that time, the number of courses has more than tripled.
Developers build courses under the guise of parks or other projects, often with the tacit approval of local officials. In one example chronicled by state media, an illegal golf course boasting 58 villas was originally built as a "public sports park," only to be secretly converted later. Many of China's cities, meanwhile, face severe land shortages and skyrocketing real estate prices.
Golf has also come under scrutiny by way of the sweeping anti-corruption campaign launched under Chinese President Xi Jinping. The ruling Communist Party warned its 88 million members in 2015 not to play golf, likening it to "extravagant eating and drinking" and other bad habits that were at odds with the party's stated principles. An editorial in the China Daily newspaper the following spring clarified that party cadres were not to take free memberships or rounds.

Golf boom beginning in '80s

China has veered over the years between rejecting and supporting golf. Amid a spirit of austerity and attacks on the country's former elites, Mao Zedong banned golf after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. One Shanghai golf course was turned into the city zoo.

Exactly when this occurs is unclear at this stage, but it seems it might be very soon!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The New Farmer in the New Agriculture

Toil is no longer king. To a large degree, agricultural success these days is reserved for those who have the time and capacity to figure out which technologies will benefit their farms the most and for those who can implement them in the best way possible.
In a climate-controlled cab, while listening to the Blue Jays game, a farmer can control a machine approximately the size of a small house with a simple joystick. He or she doesn’t need to steer because the machine does that by itself. The farmer has full control over the machine’s thousands of moving parts via a touchscreen monitor.
Most combines in circulation now are capable of threshing hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of crop per day. They are also capable of processing and displaying a phenomenal amount of information. The farmer knows exactly how many bushels per acre his or her combine is processing.
Farming has become a vocation for the detailed, the tech savvy, the geek. From seeding to spraying to harvesting, and all the minute processes in between, farms are relying on machines capable of gathering and processing awe-inspiring amounts of information.
A sprayer that increases dosage in areas of a field that are more disease-prone will increase yield potential, increase profits, and allow that plot of land to generate more food. It’s called variable-rate technology. And it’s only one example of the way farms have evolved into digital playgrounds to grow more food on a finite supply of acres, feeding a hungry market, and offsetting rising land prices. 
Companies such as Case IH, John Deere, Caterpillar, and many others have invested millions (if not billions) in developing cutting edge technologies previously used in military applications for the agricultural market.
In many ways it’s a brave new world. And an intimidating one.
Robotics will find their way onto farms sooner than you and I think. Technology is advancing at a pace advantageous to those waiting for what’s new to become affordable.
In 2014, Grainews reported on ag-based technology that involved an advanced drone mapping a farmer’s field for specific weeds then sending that data to a fleet of unmanned tractors that would use it to locate and kill specific weeds on the field.
When such technologies become accessible to farmers like, say, me, the farmer will be nearly unrecognizable from a generation ago. And while I’m loath to call technological advancements progress without looking at them critically, I do believe that machinery allowing us to be more precise and effective in our use of chemicals is a good thing.
In August 2016, Case IH unveiled an unmanned, autonomous, high-horsepower tractor, a first for the industry. Previous attempts at robotic tractors were on smaller machines. The company has expressed its desire to market this technology to farmers.
Right now, on my farm, the tractors we use the most steer themselves. Our combine is a constant learning curve. And what we have is old. The return on investment for a farm this size must be high and nearly immediate for us to consider purchasing the kinds of technology the ag industry would consider new.
What is accessible and has my undivided attention is the use of drones for basic agronomy. While there are drones available for mapping and some even have the capacity to spray weeds themselves, my interest in them is much more pedestrian: field scouting.
To fly a video drone over areas I can’t access via truck, tractor or atv could be a valuable exercise.
Last spring, gophers ate a few acres of my then newly planted soybeans. This problem was new to me. I did what I could to mitigate the damage once an agronomist helped me determine what the problem was (it bewildered a lot of people), but the result was a loss of about two acres, which, at last year’s yields and prices, equaled a loss of more than $1,000.
In the southwest corner of the field, in an area I couldn’t get to nor see, gophers kept eating, a problem I only took stock of once combining.
Had I scouted that field and that area with an entry-level drone capable of taking video or stills, it would have paid for itself.
Toil is still very much a part of any successful farm, but in many ways it’s taking a back seat to buttons, switches, programs, and monitors. This means increased precision and less waste. And it means increased food production on a finite amount of land.
Next time you see a farmer, thank them, then assume they are handling technologies that put most things in your house to shame.
This appeared in the Financial Post in the Agriculture section on 9 January 2017 written by Torban Dyck. The link is here - 
It is a summary of the technology now appearing in modern agriculture on the farm, and together with some pretty smart genetic progress occurring and not all GM either, it is the future of agriculture NOW.  When you combine these trends with increasing attention directed towards food waste and similar post harvest actions, a vision of agriculture actually feeding the world with less land of lower quality may not be so far fetched.  When you also add the stuff being done with inside hydroponics and automated and robotic vegetable production it sure adds to technology in agriculture and horticulture.
And this technology is hopefully also encouraging some of the smart minds around the youth of today to consider agricultural science as a career.  It is not such a bad choice - plenty of science and technology and a chance to be outdoors at least some of the time!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Zoysia Seed Availability - Australia 2017

Delay and more delay, it seems.  

Christmas holidays and bad weather in the US have been part of the issue too, but not the only problem.  It is not at the Australian end!! 

However, rumours are around that both Zenith and Compadre zoysia seed should be available for sale in Australia by February 2017.

More detail expected over the next two weeks.

If interested in zoysia seed for planting this season we can assist with emailed pdf information sheets, sowing rates and fertiliser rates  - all the detail needed for a successful lawn sowing.

And remember........moisture management during the initial 2-3 weeks is absolutely critical for a successful zoysia planting, including " during the daylight hours" short bursts of water to keep the surface damp [ not super wet] every few hours for a few minutes [ time dependent on irrigation set up].  This prevents the slow germinating seed from dehydration, as it is close to the hot surface of the soil to ensure adequate light during germination.

For larger areas, hydroseeding may be a good option to consider, as the carrier material does help hold moisture near the seed.

UPDATE on 1 February 2017 - A significant issue has occurred.  A banned weed has been found in all lines of varieties being considered for import to Australia.  Recleaning, resampling and retesting will occur in the near term by the exporter.  A delay of at least 3-4 weeks is likely, maybe longer.  

There is no guarantee the recleaning will be successful.

At best..........check back after mid February.  We will try to keep you updated as information is made available. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

‘Gene-silencing’ technique - game-changer for crop protection?

Researchers at the University of Surrey and University of Queensland have developed a revolutionary new crop protection technique which offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to genetically-modified crops and chemical pesticides.

The breakthrough research, published in Nature Plants, could have huge benefits for agriculture and positively impact communities around the world. Plant pests and pathogens are estimated to reduce global crop yields by 30 to 40 per cent a year, constraining global food security. At the same time, the need for higher production, regulatory demands, pesticide resistance, and concern about global warming driving the spread of disease all mean there is a growing need for new approaches to crop protection.

The researchers have found that by combining clay nanoparticles with designer ‘RNAs’ (molecules with essential roles in gene biology), it is possible to silence certain genes within plants. The spray they have developed – known as BioClay – has been shown to give plants virus protection for at least 20 days following a single application. When sprayed with BioClay, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself.  With virus diseases commonplace in many field crop and vegetable crops, this could be a huge breakthrough - essentially immunising plants when a disease threatens.

The latest research overcomes the instability of ‘naked’ RNAs sprayed on plants, which has previously prevented them from being used effectively for virus protection. By loading the agents on to clay nanoparticles, they do not wash off, enabling them to be released over an extended period of time before degrading.

The BioClay technology, which is based on nanoparticles used in the development of human drug treatments, has a number of advantages over existing chemical-based pesticides. Since BioClay is non-toxic and degradable, there is less risk to the environment and human health. It can also be used in a highly targeted way to protect crops against specific pathogens.

Professor G.Q. Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey and co-author of the research paper, said: “This is one of the best examples of nanoparticles being effective for biological molecular delivery with a controlled release rate for combating diseases in plants or animals. The same nanoparticle technology invented and patented in my laboratory at the University of Queensland was used for effective targeted drug delivery. It was licensed to an Oxford-based pharmaceutical company and is now being commercialised for drug development.”

“I am very pleased to see the exciting results of this project and the publication of our research in the prestigious Nature Plants journal.”

The research paper, ‘Clay nanosheets for stable delivery of RNA interference as a topical application to protect plants against viruses’ is published in Nature Plants on 10 January 2017.

The research was led by researchers Professor Neena Mitter and Professor Gordon Xu at the University of Queensland in collaboration with Professor Lu of the University of Surrey. 

While field trials been conducted successfully, a lot more field and lab research will be needed to reach the goal of regulatory approvals and have the technique used widely. 

More at

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Black Soldier Fly Larvae - New Fish Food?

THE Twynam Group says it will build and operate 20 fly factories across Australasia to produce fish food after being granted licences by waste-to-protein recycler AgriProtein Technologies
The fly factories will produce industrial volumes of the insect-based feed MagMeal for use in farming and aquaculture as an alternative to fish-meal. 
AgriProtein managing director David Drew said the use of Magmeal would relieve pressure on dwindling wild fish stocks and contribute to food security across the region.
Mr Drew said flies would be reared on existing organic waste. When operational, the 20 factories combined would be able to recycle 1.8 million tonnes of waste a year.
Fly larvae are a natural source of protein for fish.
 Fly larvae are a natural source of protein for fish.
“Today marks another step in the fight to replace fish-meal in aquaculture and animal feeds – the start of a global roll-out of the only tried and tested, commercially-viable alternative,” Mr Drew said.
Twynam Group chief executive officer Johnny Kahlbetzer said Twynam was always seeking new ways to make a difference in sustainable agriculture and energy production.  
“Working with AgriProtein is helping to resolve two sustainability issues, waste management and depleting fishery resources,” Mr Kahlbetzer said.  
“We’re looking forward to pioneering this new sustainable sector with them.”
The fly factories will produce industrial volumes of the insect-based feed MagMeal.
 The fly factories will produce industrial volumes of the insect-based feed MagMeal.
AgriProtein will announce the agreement at today’s award presentation of the Australian government-backed Blue Economy Challenge 2016. The company won a $450,000 award for its industrially-scalable solution to the depletion of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean.
Mr Drew said the government had launched the Blue Economy Challenge as a project to re-engineer aquaculture.  
“So we’re investing our award in building the scale needed to do that, chiefly in research, market-making and product development,” he said. “Huge thanks to the good people of Australia for this vote of confidence, which will help us fulfil our mission to find a better way to feed the world.”
Fly larvae are a natural source of protein for fish and other animals. MagMeal is described as a high-protein feed made from the dried, milled and de-fatted larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). Unlike houseflies, black soldier flies avoid human habitations and are not considered a pest.
Using an armada of 8.5 billion flies, a standard AgriProtein factory takes in 250t of organic matter per day and produces nearly 5000 tonnes of MagMeal and 2000t of MagOil per year to replace the use of fish-meal.
Mr Drew said the licencing covered the set-up and operation of fly factories - including the technology required to separate organic from non-organic waste used to feed the flies and their larvae.
Black Soldier Fly larvae have been investigated for this type of option for a number of years, mainly with strong advocates in the USA.
It can offer a real solution for dealing with organic wastes and creating alternative value for the larvae as a food.

Original article on Queensland Country Life

Thursday, December 01, 2016

A New Paradigm for Urban Sanitation - An Urgent Need

Addressing the urban sanitation crisis: Time for a radical shift

Martin Gambrill's picture

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Jan Willem Rosenboom
The University of Leeds – Barbara Evans
Emory University – Christine Moe & Eduardo Perez
The World Bank – Sophie TrémoletValérie SturmClémentine Stip
WaterAid – Andrés Hueso
Plan International – Darren Saywell

Children in Maputo, Mozambique
Photo credit:
Isabel Blackett/The World Bank

A successful city is economically and culturally vibrant, healthy, safe, clean and attractive to business and tourism, and provides quality of life to its citizens. This vision is appealing but remains hard to realize as developing cities have to cope with changing demographics and climate with limited financial and human resources. The sustainable development goals have given a new impetus for cities to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG11), ensure citizens’ health and wellbeing (SDG3) and secure access to sustainable water and sanitation services (SDG6).

World Toilet Day on November 19th is the opportunity to remind ourselves of a few facts and propose a set of guiding principles for a renewed and revitalized urban sanitation agenda.
Many cities struggle to deal with the most basic municipal task of managing human excreta. Some are effectively “drowning” in human waste. Urban population growth continuously outpaces gains in improved sanitation access and, globally, nearly one billion people live in urban slums with poor or no sanitation. Only 26% of urban excreta is deemed to be safely managed. The results? Environmental degradation, endemic disease leading to mortality and morbidity, especially among children, poor school attendance and performance, low productivity, constraints on the delivery of essential urban services such as housing, transport, safe water and drainage, and, ultimately, limits on economic growth and urban development. In short, a silent crisis that impedes the realization of the urban transformation framed in SDG11.

Urban sanitation has a fundamental role to play in achieving the SDG goals identified above. Business as usual will fail to deliver the kind of sanitation that underpins the envisioned urban transformation, by operating at too small a scale and focusing on infrastructure alone rather than on city-wide solutions. What is required is a radical shift in mindsets and practices towards an urban sanitation approach that impacts political priorities, funding, planning, design, management and governance.

Mobile desludging tank being wheeled out of an alley in the
city of Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo credit: Jan Willem Rosenboom

This radical shift will require the engagement of all stakeholders and a political transformation that touches all citizens, rich and poor, informal and formal, to facilitate the roll out of universal urban sanitation services. This is critical not only for reasons of equity, and to respond to the human right to sanitation, but also because the consequences of inadequate sanitation eventually affect everyone, as excreta-related pathogens spread easily across dense urban environments.

To make progress, urban development professionals and stakeholders need to better understand how sanitation impacts the functions and form of the city and how it supports economic development and promotes equity. To achieve sustainable, equitable and safe management of excreta for the whole city, sanitation sector professionals must transform their thinking and practices to deploy both old and new solutions in smarter ways.
We, from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The University of Leeds, Emory University, WaterAid, Plan International and The World Bank, have come together as a group of practitioners to galvanize this agenda by sharing conversations globally and mobilizing contributions from decision-makers and other practitioners across disciplines.

We propose that this renewed urban sanitation agenda should aim to:
  • Embed sanitation within the framework of urban governance and municipal services provision.
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities, with accountability and transparency.
  • Provide ‘safe management’ of excreta throughout the sanitation chain – for both onsite sanitation and sewers – to ensure separation of fecal contamination from people across the whole city.
  • Focus on outcomes rather than technologies – allowing for diversity of solutions and approaches.
  • Base decisions on secure operational budgets being available (including for operation and maintenance).
  • Facilitate progressive realization, building on what is already in place.
  • Commit resources to training city leaders and technicians of the future to solve complex problems rather than deliver predetermined solutions.
 On this World Toilet Day, we invite you to join us in responding to this shared responsibility.


Submitted on the water blog last week but important enough to be very widely distributed, including in the more fortunate regions where clean water and effective sanitation is the norm.

Most Australians live with good to excellent water quality and decent effective sanitation.   That is not the situation in many regions of the world, where urban sanitation is, well,............. bloody awful! [ in the Australian vernacular].

As urban density rises especially in poorer countries urban sanitation seems to decline.  It does need reversing to allow a rise in dignity and health for the less fortunate.

World Toilet Day 2016 - November 19 was a time for reflection and change.