NI Farmers can save

UFU and DARD asked to set up a Working Party on Code of Practice

One of Northern Ireland’s top arable farmers has claimed that more than £15 million pounds is being spent on imported fertiliser every year in Northern Ireland when using organic manure such as chicken litter is saving him £20,000 a year on his farm alone.

Speaking to the Ulster Arable Society at Hillsborough Research yesterday, Allan Chambers of Clough in Co Down, told an audience of farmers who grow potatoes, maize, vegetables and barley that there was no need to incinerate valuable fertiliser like chicken litter, when according to DARD’s own figures it could all be used on arable crops.

He also asked DARD and the UFU to set up a working party to draw up a voluntary code of practice for storage and use of chicken litter as valuable organic manure and asked for the Farm Nutrient Management System grants to be made available to arable farmers.

“Using the regulations set down under RB209 Northern Ireland’s entire crop of potatoes, forage maize, vegetables and spring barley would be able to use all of the chicken litter produced in Northern Ireland and indeed there would be a massive demand in the South of Ireland for any surplus.

“It is currently a quarter of the price of imported chemical fertiliser and on field trials I have run on my own farm over the last twenty years I have registered no increase phosphate or potash levels.

“In fact there is no comprehensive testing of arable farming land by DARD and I am sure that the experience of other arable farmers will be the same as mine. We should be using this valuable organic fertiliser and I do not believe there is any need for millions of pounds to be spent on disposing of it.

“The only area of concern is the limited risk of botulism on neighbouring cattle, but judicious vaccination would be very inexpensive and could be provided free of charge to livestock farmers if a small levy is applied to the cost of the organic manure.”

Commenting on Allan Chambers request to DARD to look again at the use of organic manure and the testing of arable farm land in place of incineration, Ray Clarke, Chairman of CALNI said that this was yet more evidence of the fact that a natural solution was available to poultry farmers.

“It is such a stunningly simple solution and unbelievable that farmers like Allan Chambers are not being heard. It makes perfect economic sense to channel money to farmers to help them reduce costs and create wealth for the whole of Northern Ireland rather than spend millions lining the pockets of large corporations.

“The sooner DARD, DETI and DOE join up their thinking the sooner Northern Ireland will stop wasting taxpayers money. We will be submitting this evidence to all of the appropriate authorities and it is yet more evidence to put in front of a public inquiry or a judicial review.”

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