|BCIA Agricultural Applications Seminar|
|BCIA’s 'Agricultural Products from Brown Coal' workshop was held in Melbourne at the Monash University Conference Centre on 17th December 2015, and forms part of the BCIA workshop series ‘Building the R&D plan to support a new brown coal industry’.|
|Products derived from Victorian brown coal are already being used in Australian agriculture, but there is potential to expand the range of products using new manufacturing technologies. This workshop was intended to bring together industry, academic and regulatory experts who had expressed an interest in this area, to facilitate collaboration that could eventually lead to new manufacturing industries in Victoria.|
|Angeline Bartholomeusz, Business Development Manager at Monash University, provided an informative presentation on potential funding opportunities, which is always a topic of great interest. The round-table discussion that followed, led by BCIA’s Dr David McManus, provided an opportunity for participants to get to know each other and highlighted both opportunities and challenges.|
Participants expressed frustration that agricultural products derived from lignite are widely used overseas but have been ignored by Australian fertiliser companies. There are good opportunities for Australian products in the international market, but they need to be cost-effective and marketed properly.
|Figure 1: Angeline Bartholomeusz, Monash University, presenting to workshop participants.|
|Local product trials have demonstrated that soils can be progressively improved with lignite-based products, with higher plant growth and improved stock health. These results need to be validated with large-scale independent field trials but funding opportunities are limited.|
It was apparent that there is no lack of product opportunities or technical expertise. The main barriers seem to be a lack of understanding in the Australian market, and the lack of a mechanism and funding to build the necessary working partnerships.
BCIA’s Dr Phil Gurney concluded the workshop by highlighting three potential actions that were identified during the day.
1. Reduce risks by developing a local carbon fertiliser product based on a proven product as sold overseas.
2. Partner with Australian farmer cooperatives to trial products, with the support of university research and regulators.
3. Engage State government for funding to support pilot-scale product manufacture, field trial evaluations and market engagement.This workshop started the process of developing a roadmap for new manufacturing industries based on Victorian brown coal.
Another workshop is planned in this series to help set the research agenda to support growth of this industry sector. In support of this, BCIA has developed a new report on Agricultural Products from Brown Coal. If you are interested in attending the planned event or have an interest in developing new agricultural products from coal, please email BCIA at email@example.com.