Local Producers look outside the square #5

September 12, 2010

Personal goal turns into big business
The move towards natural fertilisers has been growing over the last decade, with farmers looking for alternatives to “synthetic” nitrogen and phosphorous.

Barraba beef producer,  Luke Bowman a few years ago began looking at ways to improve the soil on his family farm, Springfield. After considerable research, Luke decided composting seemed to have the greatest potential to increase soil fertility but found that machinery in the market place was decidedly lacking.

Convinced that composting was the direction he wanted to take, Luke went to Austria, where composting is very advanced, to investigate the Austrian way of composting.There he met the world renowned “gurus” of composting, Seigfried and Uta Juebke. 

Through them, Luke found out all he wanted to know including, that he would need to import the specialist machinery from Austria to enable him to commence the manufacture of humus compost on his property. From here, according to Luke “a series of doors opened” which saw him move in a direction he had not initially anticipated.

Very quickly it became apparent to Luke that there was a need in the market for someone to supply composting machinery to others interested in improving soil through “biologically efficient” humus compost. 

Along with actually supplying the machinery, education and training, it was also essential to maximise the use of the hardware.  In February 2008, Luke and his wife, Melissa established their business, “Break it Down Composting.” 

Break It Down Composting is a number of companies in one. It produces high quality compost, using a process called Controlled Microbial Composting (CMC), which Luke makes and sells on his farm.

The business provides workshops and seminars to educate people in how to improve their soils by building humus in soils and compost and Break It Down Composting sells a range of compost machinery and equipment, from compost turners, compost tea machines to testing equipment for compost production. (Comprehensive information about CMC and humus production can be found on the Break It Down website.)

Luke told the Advocate that his six day production seminars in Barraba attract people from all over Australia, as well as overseas.

He is now looking into holding classes in other States, including South Australia and Western Australia where farmers involved in more intensive, higher value agriculture have shown keen interest in composting.

Luke said that from a seed of an idea focused on making compost for themselves, he and Melissa now have a “full blown business” that keeps them much busier than they initially anticipated.

Other articles in the series: