Soil science blog

How does the BioGrowth™ program rebuild soil health?

Soil quality is not only a key indicator of environmental health, but also a crucial component of success in a range of infrastructure, mining and roading projects – and achieving the desired outcome is of greater importance than ever before.

The problem that many property owners have faced is that the soil revegetation process can be costly in terms of time, energy and money. 

In terms of rapid, effective revegetation solutions that achieve self-sustaining results in the long-term, EnviroStraw’s BioGrowth™ program is one of a kind. 

The BioGrowth™ program: a summary

The world-first BioGrowth™ program focuses on developing the optimum rhizosphere for plant growth using nature’s components. In other words, the program looks to rebuild soils in a natural way using a specific suite of microbes, biostimulants, phytonutrients and minerals designed to enhance microbial activity in highly disturbed low-nutrient low-carbon soils. Combining nature with modern science, the system is able to build carbon, release locked up nutrients and adjust pH, allowing healthy plants to grow in the most challenging of soils and climatic conditions.

As a uniquely innovative and effective outcome-driven alternative to conventional revegetation practices, BioGrowth™ assesses and addresses influential ecological factors and constraints and helps mitigate risks commonly associated with revegetation projects. 

The BioGrowth approach is unique in that it only implements products, application rates and soil cultivation practices that speed up the natural processes of re-building soil health, without impeding on vegetation establishment.

In severely disturbed environments, soil biology is key to bringing back soil balance and health, by making use of all the natural mineral and organic derived resources found in the soil and in the inputs added via the revegetation process, the BioGrowth program creates a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship between plants and soil. 

The natural and holistic approach of the BioGrowth program employs scientifically validated soil remediation, application and soil cultivation techniques and processes, designed to achieve desired outcomes with minimal cost. This optimises the natural succession phase of building soil health and vegetation establishment, leading to the development of long-term, self-sustaining outcomes within the shortest possible time frame.

The application process

The BioGrowth™ program is designed for easy implementation, reducing the amount of time and water required in the application process. Steering away from traditional volume-based application processes, the BioGrowth™ soil conditioning process reduces the quantity of soil conditioners like Gypsum and lime by up to 80%. It also requires significantly less water due to increased mix rates of the Biotic Growth amendment hydromulch. On each project, our soil scientists determine application rates of all inputs and design a detailed plan to optimise microbial activity. When the microbiome is re-established in these highly disturbed soils, incredible outcomes can be achieved. 

Hydromulch equipment is key to streamlining the application process itself. Compared to typical projects which would require loaders, tractor spreaders and other machinery, hydromulch application can be completed with one purpose-built vehicle, which makes for faster, more efficient outcomes.  

The products 

The BioGrowth™ program includes a full range of products, from standard Hydromulch, Bonded Fibre Matrix (BFM), EnviroMatrix ECM and Biotic Growth Amendments to soil-stabilising polymers and purpose-designed soil amendments.

The range of products used as inputs in the BioGrowth™ program includes: 

  • Hydromulch products manufactured from waste and recycled material;
  • Cereal straw sourced from stubble often burned in farmers’ paddocks;
  • Recycled paper, and;
  • Waste wood fibre from the timber industry.

The benefits of the BioGrowth™ program 

All the components needed to create functionally sustainable soils are present in a single bale of EnviroMatrix ECM Biotic Growth Amendment and BFM Complete. The BioGrowth™ program also produces self-sustaining results, significantly reducing long-term maintenance costs. 

The BioGrowth™ program is designed to increase microbial activity, reduce erosion using nature’s soil glue, glomalin, and build soil carbon levels, and the results it delivers have earned International awards. To this end, all products are vigorously tested in independent laboratories and universities to ensure that they meet world standards and create desired project outcomes. Mixing higher rates of Hydromulch to water in each tank greatly improves on-site efficiencies, reducing the volume of water required and carbon emissions produced by increasing the area coverage capacity of each tank.

The BioGrowth™ program gets results even when topsoil is scarce on site with up to 80% less soil conditioner, greatly reducing quantities of lime, gypsum and low quality compost. This in turn reduces purchasing and transportation costs, traffic management requirements, CO2 emissions and delivery charges. Topsoil and or compost as a soil conditioner is not required when a root-penetrable substrate subsoil is available. 

In favourable climatic conditions, the BioGrowth™ program is designed to establish deep-rooted native vegetation in a matter of months. In doing so, the program greatly reduces the associated soil loss that can create a major biodiversity problem and threaten wildlife habitat on any project. 

Non-watering hydromulch options provide up to 18 months of functional longevity for the Hydromulch layer, protecting the seeds and the soil surface. The hydraulic application process and higher mix ratios of the hydromulch medium allows for increased coverage area per tank of Hydromulch applied, resulting in water savings of up to 42,000 Litres of water per hectare treated. 

EnviroStraw products and programs are designed in Australian universities and laboratories with inputs coming from local farmers in rural Australia and other recycled Australian renewable inputs and resources. 


Carbon levels in soil

The table above demonstrates the powerful impact of our programs in balancing and remediating challenging soils. This snapshot is from a trial we performed on Maule Creek Mine site in NSW. The soil lab recommended 28 tons of Gypsum and 2.8 tons of magnesium oxide to adjust pH (9.7), balance the calcium magnesium ratios and reduce sodium levels. The EnviroStraw program was simple: reshape the batter, prepare a suitable seedbed and apply the EnviroMatrix Erosion Control Matrix and Biotic Growth Amendment at a rate of 10 tons per hectare.

At its core, the BioGrowth™ program is focused on utilising easy-to-adopt, scientifically validated, economical and environmentally sustainable practices and inputs to achieve optimal outcomes. By radically improving soil health, quality and fertility, BioGrowth™ reduces the costs associated with amelioration, watering and on-going maintenance, and lowers the risk of expensive reworks.

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