Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Fertiliser prices may have dropped a little from last year’s peak but they still represent a significant cost for most farm businesses.

A meeting planned for Torr Farm, Auchencairn, on Friday, March 15, will focus on ways farmers can make the best use of the nutrients available in the manure and slurry their livestock produce.

The free event is organised jointly by consultants from Scotland’s Rural College and Soil Association Scotland. It is part of the Scottish government’s Climate Change Advisory Activity and Future Proofing Scotland’s Farming initiative. In particular, it plays a key role in the Farming for a Better Climate initiative.

Torr Farm is one of the four Farming for a Better Climate Focus Farms in Scotland and organic farmers Ross and Lee Paton are old hands at explaining their experiences to visiting groups. They work with local farmers to explore ways of improving the farm’s efficiency, lowering costs as well as reducing the farm’s carbon footprint.

At the “Muck” event Ross will be joined by SRUC expert Dr Bill Crooks in explaining how the PLANET nutrient management programme can be used to plan the proper use of resources over the season. They will be backed up by composting expert Audrey Litterick of Earthcare Technical Ltd, who can give tips on the proper care and management of what some regard as an animal waste but more now realise is a valuable home produced resource. At current fertiliser prices dairy slurry has a typical value of around £3.20 per cubic metre, so significant savings can be made if it is properly applied.

If slurry and dung are wrongly applied there is a risk of not only waste but pollution. Jacqueline McColm of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency will advise on how farmers can avoid penalties of breaking the General Binding Rules on the application of manures. In many cases, it is all down to proper soil management and James Bretherton of AgScope will explore that subject in the first presentation of the day,

After lunch, practical advice and tips will be discussed out in the fields at Torr. A local contractor will also be on farm demonstrating various items of slurry spreading kit. There will be lots of opportunities throughout the day to pick the brains of the speakers, the host and other farmers.

This event, which also receives support from Scotland’s Rural Development Programme Skills Development Scheme and Quality Meat Scotland, is free of charge but booking is essential.

For further information and to book, contact Sandra MacRae 01387 261172 or email sandra.macrae@sac.co.uk.

Further information about the Farming for a Better Climate initiative can be found at www.sac.ac.uk/climatechange/farmingforabetterclimate.

Further information on Future Proofing Scotland’s Farming can be found at www.soilassociation.org/innovativefarming/futureproofingscotlandsfarming.