Before launching Green Business Canada, I spent so much time in the deep-fried chicken business; the lesson I learned was that you cannot make chicken salad from chicken-shit. Then I met Marc Legault who introduced his world of making fertilizer out of chicken manure. In a world where a lot of developing countries cannot afford fertilizer and consume a lot of chicken; I think Marc’s research is pure brilliance take waste and grow food. In his own words here is an overview of what Marc is doing.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, AF, is refining aerobic digestion to convert organic wastes into readily-available plant nutrient solutions. Poultry manure is fermented to produce biologically active plant nutrient solutions.

Oxygen addition increases the microorganisms’ metabolic activity and eliminates odours. Pathogen pasteurization occurs from an induced thermophilic step. Temperatures in excess of 70°C have been attained to date. The loss of nutrients is minimized by maintaining acidic conditions. Organic certification has yet to be undertaken. The inorganic acids used are allowed in producing organic fish-based fertilizers. The technology yields liquid and solid products.

Our bio-nutrient solutions have been trialed in greenhouses and field applications. Greenhouse applications recycle all water where sodium buildup can be an issue. Urban agriculture is showcased with an outdoor trial where food is grown on an asphalt lot complete with water recycling. We are working with a producer research group to assess the solutions impact on soil health. The project has had some success cultivating oyster mushrooms on the pasteurized residual solids. These lignocellulosic residual solids are largely from bedding materials. Soil remediation experts are interested in this solid product as a means to increase soil carbon without potential nutrient overloading.

This innovative technology can ferment other organic wastes, in particular other manures and food industry waste streams. Co-fermenting a waste-stream rich in soluble carbon would be ideal. Fermentation batches typically require much more acid than base to maintain a pH below neutral; on occasion likely triggered by fermentation conditions some batches require considerably more base – implying protons are released. Microbial Electrolysis Cell, a novel hydrogen production technology (not yet trialed by AF), utilizes microbes to release protons while digesting organic matter. A weak battery emits electrons into the solution; in the presence of a catalyst the electrons and protons join to produce hydrogen.

Waste as a Resource is a focus for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Couldn’t say it better Marc thanks for being part of world’s circular economy; well done.