North Wales Farmer saves over £11k per year after using SlurryBugs

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A north Wales farmer  saves over £11,500 a year on his fertiliser bill since deciding to treat his slurry with SlurryBugs inoculant. That was the conclusion of an on-farm demonstration at Betws-y-Coed where adopting a soil nutrient management plan and evaluating the potential of treating slurry to enhance its nutrient value were discussed by advisers.

The opportunity to reduce fertiliser use by making more use of on-farm resources is being taken up by more farmers in Wales—and that includes making sure full use is made of slurry.

Figures produced at the demonstration at Tudur Jones’ Tyn Rhos Farm near Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, revealed that a nutrient management plan undertaken at the farm had enabled £9.30 an acre to be saved on fertiliser applications for this summer’s second cut silage crop.

The event, organised by Farming Connect and the Lancashire based company Envirosystems, explained the importance of soil analyses to produce a clear profile of all nutrients present, as well as the value of treating slurry with an inoculant to exploit its full manurial value—and analysing the slurry prior to use.

An Independent Consultant has been monitoring soil indices on upland farms in north Wales. “The results of the soil nutrient analyses we’ve been working with indicate that many farmers could make significant savings on their fertiliser bills and ensure land receives precisely what it needs. It’s a way of making the most effective use of  on-farm resources—and slurry is a part of that. “If fertiliser is accurately applied and more use is made of slurry nutrients there’s the potential for farmers to save a small fortune.

After such a wet season last year soil is generally in poor condition and some early applications of fertiliser have been wasted.” Liz Russell of Envirosystems told farmers that treating slurry with the bacterial inoculant SlurryBugs had the potential to make savings of up to 75% on nitrogen fertiliser costs by capturing the nitrogen that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere.

“The slurry here has had less than 12 weeks of treatment with SlurryBugs but the analysis has already shown significant improvements in both the dry matter of the slurry and a range of nutrients.

Liz Russell told farmers. She said there had been a big increase in dry matter which had reached 242kg DM/1,000 gallons. And even after this short period there had been an improvement in total nitrogen—from 3.6 units per fresh tonne of slurry to 4.88 units.

“The two most relevant aspects of a slurry analysis are the pH and the dry matter. The aim is to improve the nutrient value of liquid slurry and to achieve a pH that will encourage aerobic activity. And treating slurry in the summer is important. It’s a time when bacterial activity in the store benefits from rising temperatures, even though treating slurry is often considered to be a winter job.” A nutrient management plan is based on the results of soil sampling and a detailed assessment of all grassland usage—grazing only, silage, grazing and silage. It creates an overall pattern of land use as well as providing data on the levels of fertiliser and slurry applied.

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The nutrient management plan showed that recommendations at Tyn Rhos were given for lime application for fields with low pH levels. “As these fields had adequate to high magnesium indices it was recommended that ground calcium limestone was used to correct the pH to the target level of pH 6.0. This will help improve yield levels and the quality of the pastures at Tyn Rhos,” said Mr Evans. The slurry, which had been treated with  SlurryBugs, was found to contain more phosphate and potash than the land at Tyn Rhos required as a result of good soil index levels for P and K. Mr Jones has been selling slurry off the holding to other farmers. “The value of nitrogen, phosphate and potash per tanker load after the inoculant application was estimated to be over £26 per 1,100 gallon tanker at current artificial fertiliser prices.

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