Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
SEAFORTH, St Thomas:
EVERY DAY we are warned and at times chided for our mismanagement of the environment. However, Ecowells, the Environmental Division of Canco Limited, is recognised for its social impact and innovative ideas to help reduce the company's negative impact on the environment.
Through research aided by the Scientific Research Council and the University of the West Indies, Canco Limited began to convert all its organic waste generated from their food-processing operations to compost.
Uriel Faulkner, manager of Ecowells Farms, said each day, the biodegradable waste is separated at the Canco factory and transported to the company's farm, situated less than one mile away. The organic debris is heaped into large piles and grass is used to cover the heaps to keep down the unpleasant smell. "Through an organised process, the waste is converted to a soil conditioner compost which is available in select supermarkets and farm stores islandwide under the Ecowells brand," Faulkner said.
The process starts with laboratory-designed and tested recipes using the cleanest local source separated organic materials. It is sustained by maintaining a temperature between 110F and 150F for between six and eight weeks, to ensure that the pathogens are killed. The moisture content is also monitored so that an ideal environment is created for the micro-organisms that help decompose matter to thrive.
The waste that has been converted to date is valued at approximately $30 million. Canco Limited supplies itself with a small amount of its required raw material such as callaloo and sorrel, which is grown using Ecowells Soil Conditioner Compost. "Ecowells has three different products, and each one has a different function that enhances the condition of the soil," Faulkner said.
The Ecowells Soil Conditioner Compost is not a fertiliser. It provides a new lifestyle for plants so their health is improved over time, while the Compost Potting Mix is good to blend with other materials to make a soil medium for starting seedlings. Worm Castings can be used as a source of plant fertility or an organic fertiliser.
"Organic farmers and gardeners have long known that regularly adding compost to the soil is the secret to growing healthy, naturally disease-resistant plants. It reduces the need for watering during dry hot summers, and the need for synthetic fertilisers," Faulkner said.