Mort and Co’s new offshoot, Grassdale Fertilisers, has developed an innovative product from the vast amounts of manure generated by its feedlots.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

When you’re feeding 70,000 head of cattle in a feedlot every day, you are used to dealing with challenges on a massive scale. At Mort and Co’s Grassdale feedlot, just out of Dalby, Qld, some 100,000 tonnes of manure is produced every year as the Wagyu, Angus and other assorted bovines chomp through 1,000 tonnes of feed a day.

The manure is corrosive and its high water content makes it heavy to transport and difficult to spread on farms. Like most feedlots, until recently Grassdale basically had to get rid of the manure locally, selling it pretty much at the cost of distribution within about 40km of the facility.

Then Charlie Mort, executive chairman and founder of the company, had a revolutionary idea that could help solve several environmental issues that farmers face, increase crop productivity and generate a substantial income stream from a waste product at the same time. Pouring a $20 million investment into the idea, Mort and Co established Grassdale Fertilisers on site, and set about manufacturing a dry, carbon-based granule from the manure that can release nitrogen slowly into the soil. Its round shape means it is suitable for traditional farming spreaders and seeders.

“We had this great asset, but we were treating it as a waste product,” Charlie says. “Now, with this new product, there’s so much demand for it. It’s got a huge future.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #146

Outback Magazine: December/January 2023