When thinking about the day to day tasks of an arable agronomist, manure management is not something that often springs to mind, however for Hutchinsons agronomist Jim Clark this is one of the biggest issues facing many of his mixed farming clients across Cumbria and Dumfries.
Managing and recording manure is a constant challenge for many farmers as the current legislative requirement to demonstrate manure management and NVZ compliance means that every farm must have accurate and reliable manure management plans in place, says Jim.
For many of his mixed farming clients who are managing large numbers of livestock alongside cropping, the paperwork is an extra burden on an already heavy work load, and in many cases the calculations and records may not be kept up to date or accurate, which can incur heavy fines.
This is an area that I am increasingly being called on for advice, as many farms want to remain compliant and avoid costly fines, but also maximise the considerable benefits that can be made by utilising organic manures correctly as they are valuable resources for nutrients and organic matter for crops, he says.
Jim uses Omnia manure management, a web-based software system that has been designed to generate manure management plans that meet all the legislative requirements for livestock manures, digestate covering field and farm limits, field spreading areas, risk maps and storage requirements.
He adds that whilst other systems may carry out nutrient management calculations, they don’t generate the necessary risk maps.
Within these legal boundaries, Omnia allows the user to produce organic manure maps for each field on a field scale or zoned sub-field basis. Jim uses the additional function of Omnia to generate maps for full nutrient recommendations of the crops on which the manure is being used and what fertiliser needs to be bought in.
Omnia can generate maps for soil organic matter, cation exchange, pH and micronutrients – all of which ensure that manure and fertiliser use is optimised – avoiding any costly waste or non-compliance.
“It’s a user-friendly system that’s easy to change and update. Accurate maps can be emailed easily across to whoever needs them – for example where contractors are being used for fertiliser application, the maps generated by Omnia are easy to understand and follow.”
He finds the ability to tailor services to the individual farm requirements very valuable. “I use the system across many different farming scenario’s, however it all comes down to the same requirement; using manures to maximum benefit, reducing harmful impact on the environment, whilst complying with NVZ rules.
[PANEL ] Omnia in practise
Poultry is the main enterprise at Bow Farms, Bow, Carlisle. With over 300,000 broilers managing and utilising the muck and remaining compliant is crucial, says farmer Wayne Norman.
“We also have some cropping and grow spring barley, winter wheat and winter barley and Jim Clark has been our agronomist for the last five years. Last year Jim, introduced us to the Omnia system.”
“Using Omnia, we can input the number of birds and the system tells us how much muck will be produced. On the back of the manure management map that the system generates, an additional inorganic fertiliser map can be produced for the cropping.”
“What this does is allow us to see exactly what is needed and where across the range of fields and crops, so we are only buying in what we need, and at the same time we are meeting all legislative requirements.”
For John Cunningham Jardine of Tinwald Estate near Dumfries, using Omnia has been an easy move from paper to digital record keeping. “We run a large AD unit, and grow maize, wheat, hybrid rye and grass to feed the unit. “
“It’s critical that we are compliant and that our records demonstrate this at all times,” says John. “Jim Clark has been able to produce digestate management maps in Omnia in the same way as manure maps, and we can easily access when, where and what has been applied to the crops – making farm assurance very straightforward.”
It’s a similar story for dairy farmer John Ferguson, of Blencogo House Farm, Wicton in Cumbria. With 250 dairy cows and 200 young stock whilst also growing maize, winter barley and wheat for stock feed, Omnia is used for all home produced and imported manures as well as for generating fertiliser recommendations for the arable cropping.
Mr Ferguson believes that having all his records in place and knowing that he is compliant makes Omnia excellent value for money.
20th March 2018