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Lithium Australia extends battery-to-fertiliser trials

Following successful results from its 2020 field trials, which used recycled alkaline battery material as a fertiliser micronutrient, Envirostream Australia, the recycling division of Lithium Australia, has expanded its field trial programme for 2021.

The company is collaborating with Summit Fertilizers, a fertiliser supplier established in 1989. Summit has introduced a number of innovations to the West Australian market and aims to help its customers use nutrients that achieve the best outcomes. Summit has provided access to three of its 2021 trial sites, two with wheat and one with lupins, to assess Envirostream products.

The programme has been expanded to four sites in WA (three Summit sites and one dedicated Envirostream site) and one dedicated Envirostream site in South Australia, thereby permitting performance assessments of the recycled battery material across varying broadacre soil types. Envirostream’s micronutrients will again be agglomerated with mono-ammonium phosphate fertiliser. This year, the number of treatments at the two Envirostream trial sites has been expanded from five to nine.

It is hoped that there will be a manganese uptake response similar to or better than that noted in the 2020 trial. Both Envirostream trial sites will be seeded with wheat crops. Treatments being used in the 2021 programme at the Envirostream sites include the following:

  • No fertiliser (control).
  • Summit MAP at two target phosphate addition rates.
  • Summit MAP and Mn (full compound), blended with Summit MAP, at two target phosphate addition rates.
  • Envirostream agglomerated MAP product 1, at two target phosphate addition rates.
  • Envirostream agglomerated MAP product 2, at two target phosphate addition rates.

The two Envirostream product options being used are both derived from its proprietary separation technology for single-use alkaline batteries. Any performance differences between these options will be assessed. Blended fertilizer products are shown in the following photographs.

Summit has seeded several sites, with the remaining Envirostream sites, located West of Kojonup, scheduled for seeding in early June 2021. Seeding at the SA site The dedicated Envirostream SA site is located between Port Wakefield and Port Broughton, towards the top of the Yorke Peninsula. Seeding there with wheat was completed on 21 May 2021.

“Lithium Australia and its subsidiaries are committed to providing the battery industry with sustainable outcomes. The expansion of Envirostream’s successful fertiliser micronutrient programme into 2021 demonstrates this commitment and further positions Envirostream to support implementation of the national Battery Stewardship Scheme, to ensure that as many spent batteries as possible are recycled rather than consigned to landfill,” said Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin.