Charles I.F.E. Pty Ltd is saving $435,000 per year from a $2 million investment in a Total Waste Management System for its Berrybank Farm. The System involves generating electricity from biogas, conserving and recycling water and collecting waste for sale as fertiliser. Despite the large investment, most of which went into the electricity generation equipment, the technologies and methods used are simple and straightforward. Many of the measures simply involve good housekeeping, such as putting timers on pumps to ensure water is not wasted if taps are left on.
Charles I.F.E. is finding that the old farming philosophy of wasting nothing makes good business sense. The waste from one part of a farm is the input to another. Along the way, the company has eliminated environmental problems such as odours and groundwater contamination. At the same time, it has dramatically reduced consumption of water, one of Australia’s most precious resources.
Pigs are able to utilise only 50% of the feed they consume, therefore half of all the feed used is returned as waste. Charles I.F.E., the company that runs Berrybank Farm at Windemere in Victoria, considered this a poor return on investment, as well as a poor use of resources, and decided to seek ways to improve the efficiency of the operation. The company also wanted to relieve the pollution problems associated with the odorous waste from the piggery, and to find ways of reducing its consumption of 400,000 litres of bore water per day.
Berrybank Farm is home to 15,000 pigs with an estimated live weight of 800 tonnes. It produces a daily average of 275,000 litres of sewage effluent with an organic solids content of approximately 2%. This is roughly the same as the sewage output of a town with a population of about 50,000 people.