North Queensland farmers brew their own biofertiliser

Fifteen farmers from properties stretching between Crystal Creek and Mackay recently joined Gary and Angela Spotswood on their Lower Burdekin property for a three-day make-your-own biofertiliser course.

NQ Dry Tropics organised the event in partnership with RegenAG®, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme Sustainable Soils for the Burdekin project.

The participating farmers, representing industries including sugarcane, grazing, and horticulture, went through the process of making their own organic fertiliser and organic insecticides, which can improve soil health and significantly reduce costs.


NQ Dry Tropics’ Project Officer Diana O’Donnell said that using excessive amounts of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides can deplete soil.

“Using bio fertilisers and insecticides can greatly increase soil biology and health, which in turn increases plant nutrition, makes crops more resistant to disease, less attractive to insects, and more drought tolerant”, she said.

“It may also lead to an increase in some special soil bacteria that are effective nitrogen fixers. These bacteria are capable of providing up to 100kg of nitrogen per hectare per year to a growing cane crop.  This is a substantial cost saver for farmers, and significantly reduces the risk of nitrogen loss off-farm and into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon,” she said.

Crystal Creek cane farmer Daniel Cordner was excited by the opportunity to learn the biofertiliser process: “Continually degrading our soil is not sustainable or cost-effective. There are alternatives that involve nourishing the soil,” he said.

Home Hill cane farmer Mark Vass was inspired to learn how biofertilisers could improve his farm: “I need to change my farming practices and rebuild my soil health – for the longevity of my farm and the future of farming in the Burdekin,” he said.

Will Lucas stamping Native Microbe mix into drum for ‘seed’ production.

Tiffany Hunt mixing Lacto.

To find out more about upcoming opportunities to improve your soil health in the region, visit