Picture by Harrison Photography
In picture are (L-R) Olive Hill, Invest NI, with Sue Prenter of Lady Muck Organic Manure.
Maguiresbridge-based Lady Muck Organic Manure is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to develop and market a novel range of sustainable compost for the gardening and horticultural industries particularly outside Northern Ireland.
This is one of Northern Ireland’s more unusual examples of innovation which comes in many forms and its contribution to economic growth is recognised as a driver of success.
The company, formed in 2009 by Sue Prenter and Gary Parke, has received an Innovation Voucher from Invest NI to develop composting technology for products from horse manure.
Support for the company’s innovative approach to the recycling of this waste material was announced by Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development during a visit to the small Fermanagh business.
She was briefed about the company’s export-focused strategy by Mrs Prenter, who launched the firm following her participation in the Invest NI ‘Go for it’ programme.
Commenting on the innovation project, Mrs Hill said: “Lady Muck has come up with a smart solution for the disposal of waste for horse-owners which complies with relevant environmental management requirements. Our support is enabling this ambitious company to explore how best to develop a composter that will speed up the production process and increase volumes to meet the growing demand for the product particularly in the Republic of Ireland.
“The project with Lady Muck is a further example of our work with the farming industry in the development of innovations which can deliver alternative revenue streams through products with significant export potential. In addition to the support being provided to the company through the Innovation Voucher scheme, we are working with the business to ensure that all legal requirements are in place to allow the product to be sold globally.”
Mrs Prenter, outlining the company’s development plans, said: “I’ve owned, and been involved with horses, mostly as a hobby, over many years, so I’ve been aware of the issues such as the regrading, disposal and management of manure.
“I spent quite some time researching composting methods and systems, including some work on composting at the university in Washington DC. A pilot project was carried out with approximately 50 tons of manure to test the systems and resulting product. Lab tests and feedback proved very favourable.
“The manure is produced from a mixture of horse manure and bedding such as paper, straw and wood pellets or shavings. We screen it to remove large debris, stones and other unwanted materials. It is then processed without using any chemicals or additives.
“We’ve also been encouraged by the feedback from initial supplies to garden centres here and in the Republic. We are developing a portfolio of customers in regions including Donegal, Dublin, Waterford, Wicklow and Sligo. The challenge for us now is to build on the contacts we’ve already made and to develop new business opportunities in the Republic with a plan to extend to the market in Great Britain.
“The composted manure is ideal for applications such as soil conditioning, feeding and mulching and for planting trees, shrubs, roses, fruit and vegetables. It is well rotted, low odour, humus rich, peat free and overall environmentally friendly.”