Manure makes soils happier than a pig in mud

By Rodney Woods

Whroo cropping and sheep farmer Sam McCardel has teamed up with Pig Co Piggery to use their pig manure as an alternative to fertilisers.

Not only has he turned the property from a hobby farm into what he describes as "a fully fledged commercial, diverse business", he is always striving to more profitable and more sustainable.

In 2018, Mr McCardel was one of 21 farmers from across Victoria invited to attend a three-day Climate-Smart Agriculture masterclass at Seymour, held by Farmers for Climate Action.

“Listening to the scientists and other farmers, my eyes were opened to the importance of carbon farming so I started exploring ways to do something positive,” he said.

Mr McCardel had heard good accounts of manure as a way to lift productivity, by improving soil fertility and retaining moisture, and lucky for him Pig Co Piggery was 2 km down the road.

“The Pig Co Piggery had accumulated three years’ worth of manure with no cheap way of offloading it,” he said.

“I signed a contract with Pig Co that solved both problems in one hit — Pig Co was relieved of the risk of environmental contamination and costly removal, while I seized the chance for cheap fertiliser.

“We grew two successful oat crops last year without using conventional fertiliser.”

Instead of paying $600/tonne for superphosphate, Mr McCardel sells 25 m of pig manure, which is about 18 tonne (subject to moisture content) for only $700.

“It clearly goes much further, is organic and also environmentally much friendlier.”

Not only does he use the manure to benefit his property, Mr McCardel also sells it to dairy farmers, orchardists, cropping farmers and hobby farmers, who are all seeking to improve the biology of their farms and seek a more competitively priced product.

For more information, or to purchase some pig manure, phone Mr McCardel on 0407 306 090.