Industry News

Reducing Waste While Helping Local Farmers

Sunday, March 24, 2019

hands holding soil

Wood ash has a long history of use as a source of potassium for soils used for agriculture. It also acts as a liming agent, raising pH levels back to desirable levels after repeated farming. It’s useful to soil structure and enhances healthy microbial activity. The Pembroke MDF facility in Ontario uses wood fueled heaters, which produce a daily average of 11 tons of wood ash.

Roseburg team members conducted a feasibility study and determined that through Ontario’s Non-Agricultural Source Material (NASM) program, this waste product could benefit local farmers. The ash would be free-of-charge, saving the farms the cost of liming agents, and reducing plant waste. They started small in 2017 with a single local farm. Since then, four more farms have signed up to receive the plant’s ash. “We had no shortage of farmers volunteering to join the program, but we only have so much wood ash to give,” said Nick Mariani, Environmental Manager at Pembroke MDF.

This isn’t unique to Pembroke. Roseburg’s El Dorado, Arkansas facility also provides ash for agricultural uses through a program under the Arkansas State Plant Board. El Dorado’s ash is used as a soil amendment on clear cuts and other timberlands, to prepare and treat the soil for the next cycle of tree growth. It is available to the public as well.

Ash from our Weed, California plant is provided to a company that sells it as soil amendment. The ash is certified with the Organic Materials Review institute (OMRI) as a licensed organic material for use in certified organic production and processing.

Amanda Orth, Roseburg’s Manager for Environmental Permitting and Compliance, describes efforts to expand the program to additional facilities: “We’re working with Oregon’s certification program for our Riddle Plywood facility’s ash initially. Once it is finished and goes through review, we’ll start looking at completing them for the other Oregon facilities as well. With this certification, we’ll be allowed to provide ash as soil amendment for folks from the public that request it. This will benefit both our facilities and our local farmers.”

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