Farming: SRUC are encouraging the use of alternatives to fertiliser

As fertiliser prices continue to rise, farmers are being encouraged to consider the use of digestate – the residue left from bio-gas production at anaerobic digester plants – as a cost-effective source of plant nutrients.

And the SRUC has pulled together practical guidance and real-life examples to share with land managers on the benefits of using this byproduct on the farm.

“Digestate, when used appropriately, can be a great source of nutrients for the farm and through the work we have been doing, we hope to make land managers aware of the risks involved and the benefits that are to be had,” said Fiona Salter of SAC Consulting.

“We know that many farmers are struggling right now with the rising costs of fertilisers, and we hope that we can provide insight into the nutrient benefit of using digestate appropriately and how to calculate the fertiliser replacement value.”

Many farmers are struggling with the rising costs of fertilisers.

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Inverness farmer, William Rose, said that using digestate had helped grow bigger yields and more consistent crops on his farm while dramatically reducing reliance on bagged fertilisers.

However he cautioned that spreading digestate well could be challenging: “You must have accurate spreading equipment and must at least have a dribble bar or some form of injection. Being able to spread accurately and only where it is needed, is essential.”

He added that using digestate had added organic matter into the ground and improved the structure of his soils – but advised farmers it was important to read the guidance and use the products in the right way.

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