Over 1000 farmers have applied for funding for a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) prepared through Farming Connect’s Advisory Service. The majority of these have been completed during the winter of 2017 – 18. These plans provide farmers with bespoke advice tailored to their individual farms which will benefit the environment, improve farm soils and reduce expenditure on inputs.
Soil testing is at the cornerstone of these plans, allowing farmers to target inputs only where they are needed thereby preventing run-off into watercourses.
Guto Owen, of the Farming Connect Farm Advisory Service, said NMPs scrutinised a farm’s existing use of fertiliser, slurry and manures and made recommendations on how these could be better used.
“Land is a farm’s biggest asset. Sampling soils provides important information on the nutrient status of fields and shows farmers what level of inputs the land actually needs, rather than using a blanket approach to spreading. It means that nutrients are not wasted and the risk of pollution is reduced,’’ he explained.
Not only is this good for the environment but for the farmer’s pocket too. “There is a potential to make huge savings from reducing the amount of fertilizer needed by following the advice in a Nutrient Management Plan” Mr Owen said.
Farmers registered with Farming Connect can receive up to 80% funding for NMPs or these can be fully-funded as group advice for Farming Connect registered businesses.
Many of the farms which requested NMPs are now tapping into another level of technical support provided by the Advisory Service, for example infrastructure advice and grassland management advice among other topics.
Several projects specifically addressing potential pollution triggers are also being considered at Farming Connect Innovation Sites, Demonstration Farms and Focus Sites. Open days at these farms allow farmers to learn from this trial work and implement changes on their own farms.
A Farming Connect Focus Site project at Lower Eyton identified management changes to improve soil efficiency that will pave the way for better productivity and profitability on a mixed livestock system. Whilst, Plas Demonstration site on Anglesey, is witnessing cost reductions and improved fertilizer efficiencies through using cutting edge technology in precision nutrient management planning.
The applications for nutrient management planning and demonstration network projects form part of Farming Connect’s ongoing campaign to assist Welsh farmers with reducing agricultural pollution and improving water quality.