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Food Derived Compost Approval Benefits North-East Business

The recent decision by Quality Meat Scotland to allow members to use BSI accredited food derived compost on agricultural land is already proving beneficial for the farming and business community in the North-east.

The moratorium was lifted at the end of February following extensive research and organics recycling company, Keenan Recycling, has already seen an increase in the number of local farmers placing orders for their nutrient rich compost.

Based at New Deer in Aberdeenshire, the firm produces 10,000 tonnes of food derived compost and 15,000 tonnes of green compost per year, all BSI accredited.

From the award winning site, the company deals with tens of thousands of tonnes of food and green waste from local authorities all over Scotland and also offers a recycling service to businesses and food processors with green targets.

Prior to this recent decision, the market for food derived compost was limited as only arable farmers with no links at all with QMS could use the product but many farms are, of course, a mix of arable and livestock which proved a major stumbling block.

Finance and Technical Director of Keenan Recycling, Gregor Keenan, said:

“Lifting the ban has opened up new markets for the business and we saw an increase in orders almost immediately. The food derived compost is a fantastic option for all farmland as it has an even higher nutrient content than the garden derived compost and the slow release continues to deliver nutrients up to three years after the first application. Of course, it’s also more cost effective and environmentally friendly than traditional chemical fertilisers.”

Compost made from food and garden waste provides long-term enhanced levels of slow release nitrogen and a rich Potash source. Soil health is also improved with the Phosphate content together with useful levels of Sulphur and trace elements such as Manganese and Magnesium. These attributes, combined with soil structure benefits and enhanced microbial activity, can lead to higher crop yields.

Aberdeenshire farmer Andrew Booth of Westfield Farm and Savock Farm at Foveran took his first delivery of recycled compost within weeks of the decision.

Mr Booth, who manages the arable and livestock farms with his father George, was one of the first QMS farm assured members in the North-east to take delivery of the nutrient rich compost from Keenan Recycling. Savock Farm is one of the two arable monitor farms in Scotland selected by the Home Grown Cereals Authority. Westfield Farm only produces a small spring cereal crop but there are plans to plough-in 150 acres of the compost in autumn this year over both farms, which will amount to around 600 tonnes.

Mr Booth rears Aberdeen Angus & Texel Cross sheep at the farm and operates his own butchery on-site to stock the company farm shop and coffee shop, The Store at Foveran, as well as other high end stores, hotels and restaurants. Produce quality is a key element for the entire business therefore, the nutrient rich soil is crucial for the growth of their cereals, some of which are used for animal feed both in-house and on the open market.

Mr Booth said:

“We’re on heavy land and this type of BSI compost will help to open up the land. We are continually seeing the price of fertilisers increase so this is an excellent alternative for farmers which will also get nutrient values into the land. If it’s better for the land, it will improve the soil, improve yields and improve gross margins.”

The Store Company operates a zero waste initiative and their green waste and food waste from the butchery, kitchen and coffee shop is already collected by Keenan Recycling to be transformed into compost.

The decision by QMS to allow farm assured members to plough-in food derived compost allows The Store to buy back the recycled compost so it is a major step forward in closing the recycling loop.

The overturn of the ban by QMS also helps the Scottish Government’s towards targets for the Zero Waste Plan, as food waste will have to be collected separately from other waste streams by 2013 and will be banned from landfill by 2015.

There are certain QMS restrictions in place for using garden and food derived compost, such as no top dressing on grazing pastures, but a full guide has been drawn up as a source for farmers.

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