Abattoir plan a first: Leitch
DUDLEY Leitch has discovered a way to transform abattoir by-products into organic fertiliser which he believes has the potential to revolutionise the industry.
In the past few years the Killarney Abattoir and Condamine River Meats owner, who is a geologist with a background in mining, has been spending up big around Warwick and now owns about 52,600 hectares from Inglewood to Millmerran, Killarney and Beaudesert, as well as Pittsworth Food Processors and a number of other companies.
Mr Leitch will begin developing the organic fertiliser within a month and during the next year will test it extensively on the group's properties and commercialise the product with the intention of floating a public company next year.
Mr Leitch is incredibly excited about the discovery and admitted he had spent many sleepless nights developing the technique for making the product, details of which remain under wraps.
“We think we're probably going to crack something pretty big here,” he said.
“I'm not going to give the secret away. We have a few totally natural products that make the carbon (in the soil) super absorbent when combined with nitrogen and phosphorous.
“What we've got is going to release the existing phosphorous that's already in the soil. The ability to be able to produce an organic fertiliser from the waste products; it's our next exciting project.”
Mr Leitch has been in close liaison with the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and said they were equally as excited about the plan.
“The government are extremely keen to provide assistance to roll out (the fertiliser) in other areas where you have a waste product,” he said.
The product will first be tested on the Leitch Pastoral Group's extensive properties around Warwick.
The group intensively grazes about 100,000 meat ewes and 3000 nanny goats on properties surrounding Warwick and already employs a number of previously untried methods to stop the degradation of farming land.
“We have a lot of country to test (the new fertiliser) on; we will market it when we can show the benefits in a bit over a year. To be putting carbon back (into the soil) with high phosphorous - scientists have been playing with it for a long time.
“There have not been many weeks I haven't been up in the night researching this over the past 18 months. I'm doing this because it makes commercial sense.”
There are also set to be big changes - including temporary job losses - at Killarney Abattoir for a period of about a month while the main focus of the meat processing plant is shifted from mutton to young cattle and prime lambs.
Mr Leitch said while between 10 to 12 people would be laid off at the abattoir, they would all be offered positions within his other companies and farms in, or close to, the Killarney district.
“Killarney was very big on marketing mutton into Sydney where we had to compete with exporters,” he said.
“We have reviewed the situation. We will now focus on local clients in south-east Queensland and we will bone more lamb and young beef and output much higher-quality products.
“We just spent $6 million upgrading Pittsworth, including a new rendering plant which cost $4m. We are also looking at a major upgrade of the rendering plant at Killarney to make it much more energy efficient - it currently takes 12 hours to render at Killarney, the new one will take 45 minutes and the quality of tallow is much higher.
“We are working on improving job security, the mutton business is dodgy. There will be more higher-quality jobs in boning and it will be a good start for young people looking to become butchers.”