The all-time high cost of conventional fertiliser has farmers looking at alternatives. One of these is biosolids from wastewater treatment plants which promote similar plant growth and quality responses at a fraction of the cost.
Evergreen Fields in Dunmore, Co. Galway are the market leaders in the supply of biosolids as a low-cost fertiliser to farmers nationwide. When biosolids are spread on agricultural land, they add nutrients, improve soil and enhance moisture retention. Applying biosolids to land has economic and waste management benefits, since it saves space in landfills, recycles a waste product and reduces demand for conventional fertilisers.
“It’s a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable fertiliser,” Stephen Smyth of Evergreen Fields points out.
Coming up on 30 years in business, Evergreen Fields is a waste disposal and transport specialist which provides a range of services, including nutrient management plans, storage, liming, land spreading and anaerobic digestion. Since 2014, however, when Stephen took over the company from his father Martin, biosolids has become its core business.
There are many advantages to using biosolids as a fertiliser. They increase plant growth by providing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients that are critical for healthy plant growth. They improve soil by enriching it with ‘slow release nutrients’ and organic matter and also increase bacterial activity, improve soil texture, promote healthy root growth and increase uptake. In addition, they can reduce fertiliser costs while maintaining high yields.
Soil samples are taken to determine soil nutrient levels so Evergreen Fields can accurately apply the correct rates for optimum crop growth. “The soil samples allow us to create a nutrient management plan. We’re able to tell the farmer what exactly needs to be put into the ground.
“By supplying them with biosolids, storing it and spreading it, we offer the full service to our customers. We have 30 years’ experience, and are therefore tried and trusted. Education is key, especially as many farmers aren’t familiar with biosolids. We see it as our job to educate them and we did this at the recent National Ploughing Championships where we were inundated with questions and enquiries.”
Evergreen Fields also supplies feedstocks to anaerobic digesters and in return supplies farmers with digestate. Digestate is what remains after anaerobic digestion. The anaerobic digester processes a number of products, including farm waste, dairy waste, abattoir / meat factory waste, kitchen waste, fats, oils and greases, septic tank sludge, maize and rape. The process involves the acceptance of wastes into the plant, either solid or liquid, which is then fed to the primary digester.
As part of the process, the plant has an on-site pasteuriser which will treat the waste to animal by-product standards, killing any contaminants by heating it to over 70 degrees for one hour. The resultant product is dewatered through a centrifuge and further dried using the onsite dryer, after which it is blended to provide high-quality fertiliser for further use.
The advantages of digestate include: crop available nutrients; sulphur additions during crop growth; source of organic matter; source of moisture; used as part of your fertiliser management plan.
Both digestate and biosolids are applied through disc injectors or rear discharge muck spreaders. Evergreen Fields has a Major disc injector which drills the liquid directly into the ground as well as two Hi-Spec Xcel 1250 rear dischargers. Belly-grass, chicken litter, dairy waste and compost are also collected and spread for fertiliser value.
One of the longest-serving companies in the liquid and biosolids industry, Evergreen Fields has been assessed and registered as meeting the requirements of ISO 9001 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environmental System and ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System. From humble beginnings in 1993 when it was founded as Smyth Transport by Martin Smyth, it has grown to employ 17 people and run a 10-strong fleet of Volvo FH Globetrotters, 35 vacuum tankers and bulk tipper trailers along with two New Holland t7235 tractors which the disc injector and rear dischargers run off.
“We originally did a lot of general haulage, but as the years went by, we got more and more into waste. We were busy up to 2010, but the waste work slowed down and we stopped tendering for work.”
After spending a few years in Australia, Stephen returned home in 2014 and revived the family business.
“We still had a truck and a trailer in the yard, so I got on the phone and started looking for work. We haven’t looked back since, with biosolids now accounting for about 80% of our business. We collect biosolids from wastewater treatment plants all over the country and deliver them to farms nationwide. We also collect waste from meat factories for supply to anaerobic digesters and the digestate from the digesters is then delivered to farms,” the affable managing director explains.
As Evergreen Fields continues to go from strength to strength, Stephen would like to take this opportunity to thank his customers and suppliers for their continued support as well as his top-class team of drivers and office personnel for their hard work, dedication and expertise.
Telephone: +353 94 96 46205 / +353 87 7206947
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 6, November/December 2022