The next stage of Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) field trial has been achieved, with the company’s subsidiary Envirostream completing plant sampling in its evaluation of using spent alkaline battery minerals as a micronutrient source in fertiliser.
Envirostream is undertaking a field trial using zinc and manganese extracted from its recycled alkaline batteries.
The zinc and manganese were incorporated in differing rations to conventional mono-ammonium phosphate fertiliser.
Envirostream has tailored the zinc and manganese micronutrients to be slow release and meet the specific needs of broad-acre farming in Western Australia.
Lithium Australia said the companies anticipate the micronutrients will suit the needs of the sandy soils that are low in zinc and manganese and are characteristic of WA’s wheatbelt region.
The company pointed out rapid-release micronutrients derived from alkaline batteries are already commercially available in the northern hemisphere.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said using material from recycled batteries to enhance fertilisers in Australia “can certainly divert toxic materials from landfill”.
“Moreover, it has the potential to provide the fertiliser industry with more sustainable inputs to improve crop yields,” he added.
Initial crop sampling for the trial was completed at the end of last month.
This was undertaken to track micronutrient performance between treatments.
Lithium Australia noted there had been a problematic start to the growing season due to low rainfall.
This combined with difficult soil has resulted in variable germination on some plots.
However, this will be evaluated as a part of a statistical analysis of the trial early next year.
It is expected the research will be completed in December with results to be available in the 2021 March quarter.
“The slow-release nature of the micronutrients produced by Envirostream could prove a real advantage in terms of local crop conditions,” Mr Griffin explained.
“We look forward to the outcome of the trials later this year.”