Organic Xtra FAQ
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What is Organic Xtra made of?
Organic Xtra is a blend of:
- composted manure
- blood & bone
- fish meal
- natural minerals
- and Sulfate of Potash
Why does it contain all these ingredients?
Each ingredient provides a nutritional benefit to plants and soil microbes. When combined together in the correct quantities, these ingredients supply an excellent balance of nutrients and trace elements.
Are the ingredients included at a rate that they actually make a difference?
Yes. We believe the added ingredients need to be at a level so there is an actual benefit to the soil and plants.
Organic Xtra contains:
- 72.5% composted manure
- 19% blood & bone and fish meal
- 3% natural Ca and Mg
- 4.5% sulfur of potash
- 1% concentrated King Island kelp seaweed.
Is Organic Xtra certified organic?
Organic Xtra is a Certified Input for Organic Production by the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA). This means that Organic Xtra can be used as a fertiliser on a farm producing certified fruit and vegetables. The BFA test Organic Xtra every two years for chemical residues, pesticides and heavy metals. If any traces were found, certification would be withdrawn. Additionally, we test every batch of composted manure for heavy metals.
Terra Firma has two versions of Organic Life. One is certified, with good levels of additives, while the other is boosted with chemical fertilisers to reduce the cost. 99% of Organic Life you will see will be the “organic based” version. We believe that if a customer wants an organic product like Organic Xtra or Organic Life, they probably don’t want a chemically enhanced product.
How long will Organic Xtra last?
There are many factors that determine how long the release period will be, like rainfall, temperature, type of plant, etc. In general we say 2 – 4 months, but if a plant looks hungry earlier then give it some more Organic Xtra. Smaller quantities applied more regularly are more beneficial than a lot less frequently
Does poultry manure burn?
Raw poultry manure contains its nitrogen in a water soluble/ammonium form. When applied around a plant and watered, it releases the nitrogen quickly and this is what causes the ‘burning’ effect, rather than heat from composting. During our composting process, the microbes convert the nitrogen from a water soluble/ammonium to a nitrate form. As the nitrogen is now locked up in a slow release form, we guarantee that it will not burn!
Is Organic Xtra pH alkaline, making it unsuitable for acid loving plants?
Back in the early days of Dynamic Lifter, all the manure came from the egg-laying chickens. They are feed a high calcium diet to help the egg-shell formation, which carries through into the manure, making it pH alkaline. This was obviously not good for acid loving plants. All the manure in Organic Xtra is sourced from the broiler chicken sheds. These chickens are fed high protein for rapid growth and the manure is pH neutral. (Broiler birds are free to roam open sheds but stay near the food and water). A handful of Organic Xtra around a camellia will have a minimal effect on soil pH.
Can I dissolve OX in a bucket over night and then apply the liquid?
The poultry manure is composted for 6 to 8 weeks. During this time most of the nitrogen is locked up into a slow release form. A strawberry grower wanted to know if he could dissolve the pellets in water and apply the nutrients through his irrigation system. We dissolved some Organic Xtra in water and had the liquid tested. The result showed only about 25% of the nitrogen is water-soluble. Used in this manner, you will get a fast result but most of the nutrient is still in the bucket.
This means that when pellets are spread around the garden and watered in, some of the nitrogen releases quickly giving fast results, while most of the nutrients are locked up and will release gradually.
Fast acting…. long lasting!
Who uses Organic Xtra?
A wide range of professionals and home gardeners uses Organic Xtra:
- Organic farmers
- Conventional farmers
- Golf courses
- Landscape gardeners
- Garden Club members
- Rose societies
- Palm & Cycad societies
- Hibiscus Societies
- Bromeliad and Cordyline societies
- Orchid societies, etc…
- Prize winning gardeners
- Dennis Hundscheidt – pronounced by Don Bourke as probably Australia’s best private garden
- Many in the Australia’s Open Garden Scheme
- And many more.
How do you compost the manure?
All our manure is composted at our Approved Composting Site. We turn our windrows every 5-10 days, which keeps the compost aerobic. This helps to reduce the odour in the Organic Xtra and maintains the temperature within the compost. This process also exceeds the composting requirements to kill pathogens.
Before a windrow is sent into the manufacturing facility it is sampled and tested by Southern Cross University Laboratory. Tests determine a full nutrient analysis, pH, heavy metal levels and that the compost is pathogen free. The compost is only dispatched for manufacturing at Narangba when the results are received and comply with standards.
Excessive and lingering ammonia detected in other products can be an indication that the compost has not been turned regularly and has been composted anaerobically.
Is Organic Xtra sterilized with steam or heat treated?
Some pelletised products claim that the product is sterilised in their process to kill any pathogens. A soil microbiologist has advised us that
- It is highly unlikely that drying pellets in an oven drier will kill the pathogens in the centre of the pellet.
- If you do sterilise the product and achieve a microbial vacuum, the first microbes to return are usually the pathogens,
- If composting is done properly the pathogens will be killed and there should be no need to sterilise.
- The slow drying with warm air does not bake the pellet into a hard particle that sometimes takes weeks to break down.
- The drying process does ensure a stable pellet which avoids breakdown of the product in the bags or the continued ‘composting’ in the bag sometimes seen with wet product.
We conduct tests for Salmonella, Ecoli and Listeria on every batch of compost before processing and have never found any traces to date.
There is no steam used in our process.
Our process does include two driers and a cooler:
- A pre drier. This allows moist compost to be processed. Our poultry manure is composted with the correct moisture content for aerobic composting. This is usually too moist to run through the production plant without an adverse effect on equipment and the reduced compaction in the pelleting dies. Product is exposed to drying in a fluid bed for just 6 seconds and the temperature of the product never exceeds 60 deg C. This adjustable process ensures the compost is always the same moisture, leading to a consistent compaction in our pelleting dies.
- A post drier. The warm moist pellets are retained in a continuous feed drier for up to an hour. This process slowly removes moisture from the whole pellet and product temperature never exceeds 54 deg C.
- Pellet Cooler. The warm pellets are transferred to an ambient air cooler in which large volumes of air remove additional moisture, stabilize the pellet structure and cool the product to below ambient temperature
The resultant product is then stable to store in silos and bags for prolonged periods of time and will easily flow through spreading equipment. The remaining moisture ( 12-14%) is adequate for the survival of the beneficial microbes which have been preserved with the gentle drying processes.
One of the main advantages of Organic Xtra is the healthy population of microorganisms generated during aerobic composting and maintained during our processing.
Do we screen out any sawdust or wood?
One misconception is that we do not remove sawdust (used in the bedding material for broiler poultry) and this dilutes the product:
- Firstly, the analysis we claim on the bag is compliant with the analysis in the product
- The carbon to nitrogen ration is important during composting and the sawdust is a beneficial and important source of carbon. It also provides a growing medium for bacteria and fungi and adds to the beneficial carbon in the product because it is composted with the manure.
- We do screen out the large fraction of sawdust. However, rather than discarding this valuable source of carbon, we grind it to a suitable size for reintroduction into the production line prior to pelletising.
Are any “beneficial” microbes added to Organic Xtra?
No, we generate the beneficial microbes during the composting process
We don’t kill the large population of beneficial microbes that have performed the composting process. We know that our product is pathogen free due to the composting process and the analysis results on the compost prior to processing. Therefore there is no need to sterilise.
Which soils are Organic Xtra suitable for?
Organic Xtra is suitable for most soils
- In sandy soils, nutrients don’t leach through with the first watering and the organic matter helps to build the soil and retain moisture.
- In clay soils, the organic matter helps to keep the clay particles apart, aiding drainage.
- In sterile soils, Organic Xtra introduces microbes to improve the health of the soil.
- In healthy soils, the additives like blood & bone and fish meal supply protein to feed and stimulate microbial populations.
Is Organic Xtra SAFE on native plants?
Organic Xtra is formulated to have a low phosphorous content, making it excellent for natives. Additionally, most of the phosphorous is water insoluble. This is important because natives are a large part of many Australian gardens.
Can I apply Organic Xtra too heavily?
It is very difficult to do any damage with Organic Xtra. We recommend 100 – 200 grams per square metre, but some professional rose growers ignore our rates and apply 1kg per bush, twice a year. We fertilized a 3 square metre garden with 80kgs of Organic Xtra to prove a point. The recommended rate was 600 grams and yet we grew tomatoes and lettuce from seeds.
How do I apply Organic Xtra?
As Organic Xtra does not burn, it can be broadcast over the garden or mixed with the soil in the bottom of the planting hole. If you are putting fertiliser in the hole before planting, it is also beneficial to sprinkle some under the drip zone of the plant. This encourages the roots to grow outward. The result is a strong and healthy plant.
Is the manure from organic chickens?
No, there is no way of collecting free-range manure. The BFA certification is the guarantee that there are no unwanted elements being introduced into the food chain.
Can antibiotic and growth hormone traces be carried through in the manure, causing problems in crops and consumers?
- Firstly, antibiotics are used in the chicken industry to control disease. However, antibiotics and other such residues are broken down in the composting process.
- Secondly, growth hormones have been banned in chicken production so are not present in the manure used.
If you ever have any questions, please call Neil directly on:
- Work (07) 3203 1379
- Mobile 0412 257 009