The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) claims that previous work on commercial farms has identified average savings of over £1000 per year with the potential to save more on many farms.

The manual, Waste Minimisation Manual, is intended to act as a checklist to help farmers spot ways to make savings.

MAFF claim that many practical measures can be implemented cheaply, thus improving a farm’s profitability. Examples include savings in grain drying costs, pesticide use, cattle feed, improvements to livestock manure utilisation and energy consumption savings.

The manual outlines six steps to waste minimisation:

  • review current practice: farmers are advised to ask the “What, Where, When, How much and Why”
  • avoid waste: consider alternative techniques to avoid generating waste from the outset.
  • reduce waste: if it cannot be avoided, is there any way in which it can be reduced?
  • re-use waste: some scrap materials may be reprocessed or re-used as raw material
  • recycle waste: there are many opportunities for waste materials to be recycled on, and sometimes off, farms, the manual says
  • take action: highlight the areas of significance and determine those which will bring the greatest and quickest returns

The potential benefits of the Waste Minimisation Manual will be demonstrated in a pilot project this spring in Shropshire. The project, managed by ADAS – a privatised agricultural consultancy formerly part of MAFF – will highlight a number of typical commercial farm case studies, and show other farmers in the region what can be achieved and how best to do it.

David Baldwin, Principal Environmental Management Consultant of ADAS, said: “This is a new way of looking at waste management, identifying ways to avoid creating waste in the first place, rather than the traditional method of identifying ways to dispose of it.”

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