Nature’s goods

In a narrow valley in Styria in Austria, Johannes Dietmaier has with entrepreneurial foresight created a company whose use of biogenic raw materials unites climate protection, sustainability, and regional value creation in an exemplary way.

March 13, 2014

The company name “Naturgut” – Nature’s goods – is also its reason for being. The company’s own composting programme supplies a key ingredient for high-value natural products for gardening and landscaping, while its biomass production supplies heating fuel for homes as well as large electricity and heating plants.
It’s not easy to get Johannes Dietmaier on a photo. Turn around and he’s back in the wheel loader, working away. “That’s just the way he is,” grins Werner Brunner, responsible for customer service. “When he sees something that’s not the way he wants it, he won’t rest till he’s fixed it.” Thinking ahead and having the courage to start something new are characteristic of the company founder. Growing up on a farm, early on Johannes Dietmaier set himself the goal of bringing its operations to a sustainable, environmentally compatible level.

“Only the highest quality is good enough for us”
When the separate collection of biodegradable waste was introduced in Austria in 1992, Dietmaier decided to set up a composting operation. As an organic farmer with deep roots in the soil, Dietmaier knew from the beginning that only the best compost had the right to be spread on agricultural fields. The reward for all this work is a quality-controlled compost that is compatible with many kinds of soil. Another business opportunity is in the expansion of the product range with related products. “We use local larch bark as a decorative and mulching material,” explains Dietmaier, and praises an important “colleague.” “Uniform appearance, defined grain – after chipping, the next most important step is screening the bark, and we can fully rely on our new Multistar L3 to take care of that.” The machine’s full name is actually Multistar L3-L, with the L standing for a longer coarse screen deck.

Fuel from the forest
This screen is also put to good use in prepping biomass, the company’s second major line of business. At the preparation area set up in 2007, local biomass is processed into fuel. In addition to chips and firewood for sale to individuals, Naturgut takes woody green cuttings and forestry remnants, coarsely shreds the material with a Crambo and screens it, and sells it to larger heating plants.

In Austria, Naturgut is probably the company with the most experience in processing forestry residue, the term for branches and crowns left by mechanical wood harvesting. “It’s not a simple subject,” Johannes Dietmaier readily admits, “But in my opinion we have no alternative but to use this resource. As a service provider, we take care of removal, and use it to create a fuel for heating plants.

The logistics require experience and flexibility. Dietmaier says, “Unfortunately there is no single best way to do things, and the margin of error for coming out on the profit side is small. Processing on-site, i.e. right on the forest road, or haulage of the loose material to a processing location, shredding with our high-speed shredder Axtor or shredding with the Crambo, further processing by screening and stone separation with our Hurrifex – many things have to be decided case-by-case. In any event, we have the machine park and the logistical know-how to get the job done.”