A multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art transport hub in Strathmerton is now operational and includes a unique facility — a worm farm water treatment system.
Victorian Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford toured Booth Transport’s new, recently-opened Strathmerton logistics and distribution hub on Numurkah Rd on Friday.
The new centre, a project of about $8.6million, is expected to create about 77 jobs and will aim to deliver improvements and savings in transport and productivity.
It has a milk transfer station, truck depot, heavy vehicle washing facility and specialty milk refrigeration silos, with future developments set to include a mechanical centre, among other things.
Booths Transport general manager Mitchell Booth said the company was a national bulk liquid transporter based in the food and agricultural area, employing more than 500 people with 300 trucks nationally.
Booths Transport also provides freight and container transportation, warehousing and logistics services.
‘‘The station’s been on the drawing board since November 2015, we commenced building it in November 2016 and we look like finishing the first stage of it in the next six weeks,’’ Mitchell said.
Ms Pulford also toured Booth’s unique wastewater treatment system — a large-scale worm farm.
Based on a Chilean development, worms are trained to eat wastewater from the depot, mixed with sawdust, to cleanse the water.
The result is a salty water, which can be used for irrigation once it has gone through a secondary process to remove excess salt.
Booths is the only company in Australia using the system, which is roughly valued at about $4million so far.
‘‘The worm effluent treatment is a pretty critical part of our business not just in this station, but in all our other depots, to be able to treat waste more effectively than we treat it now,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘It’s a huge cost to our business, roughly makes up about half a million dollars in cost every year currently, with this station’s implementation, it’s going to be a bit more than that,’’ he said.
‘‘With worm treatment, although there’s a big cost upfront, once we get it up and operational, it’s nearly cost-neutral.
‘‘It allows us to use water in our station and transfer it straight through to irrigation.’’
Company director Brian Booth said the company branched out into the milk transportation business 30 years ago, purchasing a company at Deniliquin in 1994.
‘‘(Strathmerton) is pretty important for our business; if we’re successful here, we’re successful for the rest of the area,’’ Brian said.
‘‘Strathmerton is the centre of the biggest milk producing area in Australia, so that’s why we’re here.’’
While still in development, the Strathmerton depot has been rolled out in just 20 weeks.
‘‘It’s made me feel really good, I feel like it was hard at the time, but when you see the end result, you feel like you want to do a bit more, and that’s why we’re going to double the size of it if we can, if the work is there,’’ Brian said.
The current development is expected to be completed by September/October.
Ms Pulford said the development was state-of-the-art transport infrastructure with a ‘‘really great capacity to grow from what’s already going to be an impressive set up’’.
‘‘There’s state-of-the-art equipment here for transporting milk and of course, the dairy industry has been having a really challenging period of late,’’ she said.
‘‘To be able to reduce bottlenecks and to streamline transport can only be a good thing for an industry going through a difficult time as it gets back on its feet.
‘‘This is an amazing facility, and it’s about halfway through construction, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it when it’s up to full speed, but 77 jobs is a wonderful thing for this local community.’’
Ms Pulford said she couldn’t reveal the exact amount of funding contributed by the Victorian Government due to confidentiality under the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which provided funding to the project.