North East farmers saving the planet and their pockets
6 October 2009, News release from Premier Waste Management
Britain's agricultural soil is a vital resource but its quality is deteriorating, leading to serious concerns about food security.
Now farmers in the North East are leading the way and have turned to a greener solution to improve their soil quality; agricultural compost from Premier Waste Management.
Experts have become concerned that Britain's arable soils are critically low in organic matter, meaning that they would not be able to sustain crops in the future. Good quality soil is not only vital for a thriving agricultural industry and food supply but it stores carbon and therefore helps combat climate change.
Traditionally farmers have improved the quality of their soil by using mineral fertilizers. A non-renewable resource, minerals are quarried from the ground to produce these fertilizers, and as quantities dwindle alternatives need to be found.
Premier Waste Management recognised the need for an alternative and created agricultural compost for the region's farmers. So far the North East's leading independent waste management company has made over 18,000 tonnes of agricultural compost.
By using agricultural compost, farmers are completing the natural cycle that has been used since the beginning of agriculture - using compost made from plants to replace nutrients that were taken from the soil by growing crops.
The compost is made from green waste that Premier receives from businesses, households and local authorities across the North East. Garden waste, plant clippings and grass cuttings are composted in windrows at the company's facilities in County Durham and South Tyneside.
Analysis of Premier Waste's agricultural compost has indicated that the nutrient value is a suitable substitute for the mineral fertilizer, as well as being particularly high in potash. The structure of the compost means nutrients are released slowly in to the soil. The compost also increases the carbon and organic content of the soil, important for retaining the quality of the soil, and its ability to grow food.
Aside from the environmental benefits there are big financial incentives to farmers using Premier Waste's compost. Farmers are saving on up to £100 per Acre by using the compost compared to mineral fertilizer.
Armstrong Richardson, based in Teesside is one of Premier Waste's customers who is already benefiting from the agricultural compost. So far they have spread 1,250 tonnes with another 7,000 tonnes earmarked for use.
John Charlton, Fertilizer Manager at Armstrong Richardson and Co Ltd, said:
"Compost is a very useful source of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potash and Sulphur. On our own farms it will replace autumn applications of P & K and significantly reduce our Nitrogen usage. We are looking to improve structure, improve drainage, improve nutrient holding capacity, improve soil Cat-ion exchange and reduce in-organic fertilizer use; Compost will do this.
Dr Brian Chambers, member of Premier Waste's Scientific Advisory Group and Senior Principal Scientist for ADAS adds: "Soil organic matter is fundamental to the maintenance of soil quality and sustainable crop production. Organic matter contains nutrients that are slowly released to crops during breakdown in the soil. It acts as a sponge holding on to and releasing water for crop growth and as a food source to support biological activity.
"Soils would not function without organic matter. Over recent years some experts have been concerned that arable soils are reaching critically low organic matter levels and that they will not be able to sustain crop production in the future, as a result of climate change pressures.
"Compost provides a valuable source of stable organic matter that will improve long term soil quality and fertility, and the economics of crop production".
Den Blewitt, Premier Waste's Compost Manager added: "Britain's soils hold more carbon than all the trees in Europe's forests, and are the building blocks of life. We need to retain their quality and one way to do this is to put back in to the soil what was taken from it, with compost.
"Our agricultural compost is proving very popular with farmers. Not only is it yielding significant savings for them, but it is a greener solution to retaining their soil quality, and they recognise the benefits of using compost over a non-renewable resource in mineral fertilizers."
For more information on Premier Waste Management go to www.premierwaste.com
For further information please email Premier Waste Management