Technical

Innovation at Circular Food

Circular Food® is an innovative company. Lots of companies say that, but we hold innovation as one of our core and founding values. The long term survival of the human race is dependent on our ability to innovate, to change the way we grow, process and consume food. We need to start treating soil as the living system that it is; a resource vital to our ability to feed ourselves, and prosper as a species.

We are committed to advancing the technology of turning food waste into fertiliser by optimising the recovery of nutrients from food waste and getting those nutrients back into the soil.

Our core technology

Our core technology is a process to manufacture BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™ from food waste derived inputs. One of the primary inputs to this product is digestate from AD (Anaerobic Digestion) Plants. We have developed an ‘enabling technology’ to the AD Industry. The reuse of digestate is an important economical and compliance consideration for any AD project.

To find out more about AD see references below.

Vermiculture

There is an abundance of scientific documentation proving the value of the humble earthworm to convert what has previously been called waste, into fertilisers of great value to plant yield and soil health. See our Research and References page for sources. Farming earthworms (Vermiculture) however has proven difficult when expanded to a large scale, and it has been largely unsuccessful in making a major impact on either food waste reduction or fertiliser production. The main reason for this is that it’s labour intensive, requires a lot of space, and it’s a slow process.

We continue to operate a commercial worm farm in an urban environment which produces both castings and leachate (liquid) sold under the BIG BIO brand. Both of these high value soil amendments are important ingredients in our new product BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™

Next Gen BIG BIO®

We have quickly evolved from being a large scale commercial worm farm into a large scale fertiliser manufacturer of the future based on our new product BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™.

This product contains in part the BIG BIO castings and leachate but also incorporates other sources of food waste derived nutrients in order to have a much bigger impact than we could envisage from worm derived products alone.

In the city, we’ve found two technologies of great interest, AD (Anaerobic Digestion) and Food Waste Dehydrators (sometimes called organics units). AD can use food and other organic waste to extract methane which can then be used to generate electricity. A good example is Yarra Valley Water’s AD plant at Wollert in Melbourne. Food waste dehydrators are great for reducing the volume of food waste in densely populated areas where minimising truck movements is an important part of the solution.

Both the technologies mentioned here produce residual material with no clear value add – until now. After 18 months of focussed R&D including projects in partnership with CSIRO, Yarra Valley Water and Closed Loop, and with the support of AusIndustry’s R&D Tax Incentive Program, we have developed an organic fertiliser that closes the loop on the AD and dehydration processes and incorporates the beneficial soil microbes from worm castings.

The new product is called BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™ and is derived from food waste and designed to close the loop on food waste by returning the nutrients from food waste to the soil. The product contains useful amounts of plant available Nitrogen (N), Potassium (P), Phosphorus (K), Calcium (Ca), and Sulphur (S) in plant available form. Trace elements include Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn) and more. The product is also rich in soil microbes, the living organisms that are so vital to soil health.

Most importantly the manufacturing process for BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™ is infinitely scalable which enables production of a low cost, high value fertiliser for urban and rural farming and gardening applications giving all Australians access to a product that is part of the solution to food waste and declining soil health.

BIG BIO Organic Fertiliser™ is in the final stages of development and set to change the game in the new circular economy.

Our vision includes licensing this technology throughout the world giving cities, towns and even small rural communities an opportunity to create jobs and do good while making money. For more information please email [email protected]

Research & References

microscopeFirstly, a quick note about references on this website. We only use content which is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate.

Although we’d like to think we know what we’re talking about, don’t just take our word for it! Below are some related websites, books and videos which we believe are excellent resources on the subjects of waste, vermiculture, organics and soil health.

Books and articles

Anaerobic Digestion Market Report Australia by the World Biogas Association

Vermiculture Technology; Earthworms, Organic Wastes and Environmental Management, 2011, Edited by Clive A Edwards, Norman Q Arancon & Rhonda Sherman, CRC Press

The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, 1973, Rekha Printers Pvt. Ltd

Secrets of the Soil, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, 1989, the Penguin Group

Secret Life of Compost, Malcolm Beck, 1997, Acres U.S.A

The Intelligent Gardener, Steve Solomon, 2013, New Society Publishers

Landcare – A report of Melbourne soil types – melbourne soils landcare

Microbial diversity of vermicompost bacteria that exhibit useful agricultural traits and waste management potential, Pathma, J, 2012, Pondicherry University

Vermiculture Technology: Reviving the Dreams of Sir Charles Darwin for Scientific Use of Earthworms in Sustainable Development Programs, Sinha, R, et al, 2010,

Films

Symphony of the Soil, 2013, Deborah Koons

Dirt! The Movie, 2009, Common Ground Media

Relevant websites and online articles

More about Anaerobic Digestion – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_digestion#Power_generation

Overview of the Haber-Bosch Process (A history of chemical fertiliser production) – https://www.thoughtco.com/overview-of-the-haber-bosch-process-1434563

Sustainable Food Trust – Earthworms: The saviour of our soil? 2017, Steph French

Future Directions – Under Our Feet: Soil Microorganisms as Primary Drivers of Essential Ecological Processes

The Conversation – What you need to know about soil to keep your garden healthy

www.organicgrowingwithworms.com.au

sustainablefoodtrust.org

New York Times – Scientists Hope to Cultivate and Immune System for Crops

AgriLand – New EU rule to boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers

Sarah Nolet – Agthentic.com – The biggest win-win food system opportunity that no one has solved: soil health

National Geographic – World’s Hottest Chilli Grown by Aussies (using worm juice!)

Green Harvest – a list of organic gardening supplies and information www.greenharvest.com.au

Want to see worm juice in action? Check out this video: