The Australian Federal Government recently announced grant awards as part of its $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy. These grants were set up to help Australian businesses build or scale their capabilities towards a supply chain vulnerability for agricultural production chemicals.  Phase 1 awards were announced earlier this month and were aimed at offering 27 projects a share of $33 Million Dollars, in which one of the recipients was Bio-Fertiliser company Converte.

Converte products were designed some 20 years ago in WA for local farmers.  The grant recognised the role of Converte’s products in relation to fertiliser efficiency of applied and in ground Phosphorus.  The grant application included submitting extensive research with independent scientists behind the increases in enzymes associated with the availability and cycling of NPK nutrients.  Additional data was obtained from Converte customers who have been able to gradually pair back chemical fertiliser inputs without impacting yield all while improving soil biological health and function.

Integrating bio-agri products into the farm inputs program brings a wide range of benefits and improving the efficiency of applied chemical inputs is now a critical driver for building supply chain resilience.  This factor alone is supporting a local industry for biological products that is growing rapidly to meet demand.  Converte have spent more than a decade building a solid scientific basis for their product offering and can provide its customers with solid independent data backing the product claims. 

Nutrient availability is a complex biological process rather than a simple chemical one.  The key to unlocking in soil minerals is feeding the soil biology and Converte’s Plantfood has consistently shown a 50-120% increase in soil biology on single applications of only 250ml to the hectare.  Soil biology supports the farm operation on three important levels:  

1. Increasing nutrient availability and cycling. 

2. Improving soil structure and function; and 

3. Supporting plant health and resilience.  

Once soil biological activity is supported the farmer is saving money based on higher nutrient efficiencies and building soils that will function better and retain more moisture.   With this foundation the plants access more essential nutrients and are both healthier and more resilient to abiotic and biotic stresses.  

As part of the transition to low carbon farming this approach helps to manage the impacts of a variable climate and the associated stresses and also drives down the carbon cost of agriculture.   Converte’s Managing Director John Ridley is confident that “30% of the carbon cost of inputs can be eliminated in 3 years”, which is a major step forward in the transition towards net zero.

The Corbet Family Farm – Case Study 

Farmer Andrew Corbet has been using Converte products now for more than 5 years in a broadacre cropping operation on 3000 acres.  He has over this time gradually reduced his fertiliser inputs and seen significant improvements in soil structure, soil moisture retention, plant health and resilience.  The extra plant health and resilience is expressed in many ways, but the most common observations are improved frost protection and minimal or no impact from rust infestations in wheat.  This extra resilience means yields are sustained and the biological inputs pay for themselves several times over. 

The extra moisture is easily measured against control areas and typical readings are 10-20% greater soil moisture.   This is attributed to the extra bacterial and fungal growth in the soil, and more worms that help to open up the soil pore spaces and allow for greater moisture absorption.  As a consequence, the crop is better protected through dry periods and the growing cycle can be extended by an extra week or two.

In October 2021 Andrew sent through these pictures of his wheat and barley crops.  

Sunlamb Grazing Wheat – Treated with Converte Bio-Restore Liquid Carbon  

Spartacus Barley – Treated with Converte Plantfood, MAP reduced to 60Kg and No Urea

Combining biological and conventional inputs has been a success story for this farming operation.   Andrew says “ the biological inputs are easy to handle and can be mixed with other inputs to save on time and money.  I enjoy farming more now that I can see the health benefits flowing through from the soil into plants and stock.  With the high costs and shortages of conventional fertilizer I will continue to integrate more biological inputs into my cropping program”.

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