Biowastes comprise unwanted material of biological origin, such as biosolids (sewage sludge), animal effluent, wood waste, and green waste. Biowastes can contain high concentrations of organic matter and plant nutrients, making them valuable soil conditioners. However, biowastes can also contain pathogens and contaminants that present a risk to humans and ecosystems. Inappropriate disposal of biowastes is expensive and environmentally damaging. When correctly applied to degraded lands, biowastes can create both economic and environmental value.

We seek to create environmental and economic benefits from biowastes


Municipal effluent

Animal effluents

Green-waste & crop residues


Low-grade coal

Biowaste publications

 Reis F, Gutierrez-Gines MJ, Smith CMS, Lehto NJ, Robinson BH (2017). Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) roots forage biosolids in low fertility soil. Environmental and Experimental Botany 133, 151-158.

Kim YN, Robinson BH, Lee KH, Boyer S, Dickinson NM (2016) Interactions between earthworm burrowing, growth of a leguminous shrub and nitrogen cycling in a former agricultural soil. Applied Soil Ecology

Zhong H, Smith C, Robinson BH, Kim YN, Dickinson N (2016). Plant litter variability and soil N mobility. Soil Research

Esperschuetz J, Bulman S, Anderson C, Lense O, Horswell J, Dickinson N, Robinson BH (2016). Production of biomass crops using biowastes on low fertility soil – Part I: Influence of biowastes on plant and soil quality. Journal of Environmental Quality doi:10.2134/jeq2015.12.0596

Esperschuetz J, Bulman S, Anderson C, Lense O, Horswell J, Dickinson N, Robinson BH (2016). Production of biomass crops using biowastes on low fertility soil – Part II: Effect of biowastes on nitrogen transformation processes. Journal of Environmental Quality doi:10.2134/jeq2015.12.0597

Esperschuetz J, Lense O, Anderson C, Bulman S, Horswell J, Dickinson N, Robinson BH (2016). Biowaste mixtures affecting the growth and elemental composition of Italian Ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum). Journal of Environmental Quality 45(3), 1054-1061.

Al Mamun S, Chanson G, Muliadi, Benyas E, Aktar M, Lehto N, McDowell R, Cavanagh J, Kellermann L, Clucas L, Robinson BH (2016). Municipal composts reduce the transfer of Cd from soil to vegetables. Environmental Pollution 213, 8-15.

Prosser JA, Woods RR, Horswell J, Robinson BH (2016). The potential in-situ antimicrobial activity of Myrtaceae plant species on pathogens in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 96, 1-3.

Paramashivam D, Clough TJ, Carlton A, Gough C, Dickinson NM, Horswell J, Sherlock RR, Clucas L, Robinson BH (2016). The effect of lignite on nitrogen mobility in a low-fertility soil amended with biosolids and urea. Science of the Total Environment 543(A), 601-608.

Paramashivam D, Clough TJ, Dickinson NM, Horswell J, Lense O, Clucas L, Robinson BH (2016). Effect of pine waste and pine biochar on nitrogen mobility in biosolids. Journal of Environmental Quality 45, 360-367.

Franklin H, Dickinson N, Esnault C, Robinson BH (2015). Native plants and nitrogen in agricultural landscapes of New Zealand. Plant and Soil 394(1), 407 - 420.

Kim Y, Robinson BH, Boyer S, Zhong H, Dickinson N (2015). Interactions of native and introduced earthworms with soils and plant rhizospheres in productive landscapes of New Zealand. Applied Soil Ecology 96, 141-150.

Hahner JL, Robinson BH, Zhong HT, Dickinson NM (2014). The phytoremediation potential of native plants on New Zealand dairy farms. International Journal of Phytoremediation 16(7-8), 719-734.

Lu KP, Yang X, Shen JJ, Robinson BH, Huang H, Liu D, Bolan NS, Pei JC, Wang HL (2014). Effect of bamboo and rice straw biochars on the bioavailability of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn to Sedum plumbizincicola. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 191,124-132.

Gartler J, Robinson B, Burton K, Clucas L (2013). Carbonaceous soil amendments to biofortify crop plants with zinc. Science of the Total Environment 465, 308-313.

Simmler M, Ciadamidaro L, Schulin R, Madejón P, Reiser R. Clucas L, Weber P, Robinson BH (2013). Lignite reduces the solubility and plant uptake of cadmium in pasturelands. Environmental Science and Technology 47, 9, 4497-4504.

Rees R, Robinson BH, Rog CJ, Papritz A, Schulin R (2013). Boron accumulation and tolerance of hybrid poplars grown on a B-laden mixed paper mill waste landfill. Science of the Total Environment 447, 515-524.

Anderson CWN, Robinson BH, West DM, Clucas L, Portmann D (2012). Zinc-enriched and zinc-biofortified feed as a possible animal remedy in pastoral agriculture: Animal health and environmental benefits. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 121, 30-35.

Beesley L, Moreno-Jiménez E, Gomez-Eyles JL, Harris E, Robinson B, Sizmur T (2011). A review of biochars’ potential role in the remediation, revegetation and restoration of contaminated soils. Environmental Pollution 159(12),3269-3282

Knowles OA, Robinson BH, Contangelo A, Clucas L (2011). Biochar for the mitigation of nitrate leaching from soil amended with biosolids. Science of the Total Environment 409, 3206-3210.