Recovering Nutrients from Organic Waste Streams

Recovering Nutrients form Organic Waste Streams

Project 3.1.003

Dr Dane Lamb – Project Leader
The University of Newcastle


Three years


Large scale agricultural systems rely on inputs of nitrogen and phosphorous which can be costly for farmers. Although phosphorous is significantly present in many agricultural soils, the majority exists in strongly adsorbed or insoluble inorganic forms and is not readily available to agricultural crops.

Every year, large quantities of organic waste streams that are rich in these nutrients are produced globally. The total quantity of phosphorous from various waste streams in Australia is around 20 times higher than the current agricultural demand. There is a particularly strong need to recover phosphorus from waste streams due to its dwindling availability from traditional rock phosphate sources. As well as this, the nutrients present in organic waste streams can pose a threat to the environment by nutrient enrichment causing problems such as surface water eutrophication.

This project will develop and optimise novel technologies to recover essential nutrients from organic waste streams such as poultry manure, pig manure, dairy farm wastes, sewage and industrial effluents. This will be done using an energy efficient process thus providing farmers with an efficient, cost-effective fertiliser solution.

This has to be accomplished through inexpensive, locally sourced nutrient reserves and innovative technologies to ensure cost-effective cultivation and enhanced productivity. The waste-derived fertiliser products will be assessed across a range of farming systems and soil types.

One of the expected outcomes will be increased crop productivity in Australia, which will make contributions to global food security directly and through technology generation.


The University of Newcastle
Griffith University
Southern Cross University
Central West Farming Systems
Primary Industries and Regions South Australia
Australian Organics Recycling Association
South East Water
Herbert Cane Productivity Services
Landcare Research NZ