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TAS Country : May 3rd 2012
16 Friday, Ma Farm Feature Will Bignell Harvesting waste from theseaissettohavea big impact on the land and our health, writes ROGER HANSON GOOD JOURNEY: Will Bignell, of Lenah Valley, with some rye flour he milled. The flour sco Will's skills turn waste i SALMON waste and farming share a common link. The link is seventh-generation Cen- tral Highlands farmer and molecular geneticist Will Bignell. The innovative Mr Bignell, 29, of Lenah Valley, co-manages his family farm at Bothwell and is about to complete his PhD with the CSIRO and the University of Tasmania. His PhD is on enhancing long-chain omega-3 in Australian lamb through genetics and diet. However, in a post-doctorate role with the Tasmanian Institute of Agri- culture (TIA) and Triabunna company Seafish Tasmania he has been working on taking all of Tasmania's salmon waste --- for example the guts, heads and frames which are the skeletons after being filleted --- and turning them into fish fertiliser for use on the land, aquaculture feeds and even for fish oil capsules for humans. A Federal Government ''Researcher in Business'' program identified Mr Bignell's experience with omega-3 oils in sheep and farming background as a good match for Seafish Tasmania who were looking to bring some extra scientific skills into their business. Seafish Tasmania has developed a process of enzyme digesting salmon waste under controlled conditions to yield high value fish oil, protein hydrolysate and undigested solids such as bones. The majority of the fish oil goes into aquaculture, for example prawn and eel farms in South-East Asia. ''There is a huge demand for fish oils containing long chain omega-3 in the aquaculture sector,'' Mr Bignell said. ''This is due to the need to boost long chain omega-3 content in aquaculture systems. Algae are the only natural producers of long chain omega-3 and the largest biomass is within the ocean. ''Fish and crustaceans eat the algae and accumulate the long chain omega- 3. That is why we get high levels of long chain omega-3 in some wild seafood. ''Long chain omega-3 is the best omega-3 to consume and is not pro- duced by land plants. Short chain omega-3 oils such as flax seed and chia oil are good for us but nowhere near as good as long chain omega-3 and less than 20 per cent of us are getting enough. ''This is why the oil recovery in- terests us as it contains good levels of long chain omega-3 and we can sell into good international markets such as South East Asia and we have just developed a system to recover pharma- ceutical grade omega-3 oil which is very exciting.'' The biggest product produced by volume is the salmon protein hydroly- sate which is of great value to Tasman- ian farmers. It contains amino acids, NPK and trace elements. ''The company has developed a couple of complete fertiliser blends suitable for many applications includ- ing a pure liquid fish brew.'' Mr Bignell said the fertiliser is a liquid and applied with a spray unit and micro filtered so it doesn't block nozzles. It is branded as Seafish Tas- mania Fertiliser and is available direct from the factory in Triabunna in 20 litre up to 1000 litre pods and from Horticultural and Landscape Supplies in Brighton. ''We are still conducting research to further improve the product and scien- tifically quantify the benefits to Tas- mania and its farmers,'' Mr Bignell said. ''The majority of people currently buying it are doing so to enhance their soil health and improve its fertility based upon their ethical approach to farming and their experience of other mainland produced or imported liquid fish fertilisers that have been around a long time. ''I am hoping more farmers will come on board with the science. ''It isn't a 'bang for your buck' response like urea but at 10 per cent nitrogen it isn't bad. We are looking for better bio-active soils where the ferti- lisers NPK and trace elements feed the plants and the hydrolysate feeds the soil critters which in turn enhance nutrient cycling.'' ''I have really enjoyed working on the project because we have taken salmon waste, which up till now had limited use. It would have just ended up in some pit somewhere. But now we
April 26th 2012
May 10th 2012