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Accuracy with Precision – Richard Watkins

Omnia makes life easier for busy Herefordshire mixed arable and livestock farmer ...

For busy Leominster-based family farmer Alan Davies, who finishes 500 head of beef cattle, using the Omnia manure mapping and nutrient management system has helped him maximise the considerable benefits from utilising the organic manures from the herd.

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.

Omnia is a precision technology system 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.

Alan Davies of The Nash in Pencombe is located in an NVZ, was looking for an easier way to manage his manure, ensure that farm records were always up to date and he was compliant, so on the recommendation of his agronomist, Richard Watkins of Hutchinsons, he decided to try Omnia.

“Using Omnia we have easily produced organic manure plans are for each field on a field scale or zoned sub-field basis, explains Richard.

“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 also means that if using contractors as is sometimes the case, it is really clear from the maps where it can be spread and where it should not be!”

“The system makes easy work of the necessary paperwork and generates the relevant certificates, such as the export certificate, at the touch of the button. This also satisfies farm auditors looking to see if the farm is using manures responsibly,“ he says.

“Other systems may carry out nutrient management calculations, but not the necessary risk maps or detailed calculations of manure production from the animals on the farm.”

Growers adopting the system can choose to either work the easy-to-use technology themselves, or get their agronomist to do so, points out Mr Watkins.

He adds that, based on soil, sampling, current and previous crop history alongside the manure applied, an additional function of Omnia generates maps and plans for full nutrient recommendations of the crops. This calculates how much of a particular fertiliser needs to be bought in.

This provides a real-time picture of where nutrients are needed, optimising output from crops, and not wasting money on unnecessary fertilisers. “The system easily copes with the whole farm, normally we take soil samples every four years, which means a quarter of the farm is tested each year, if done by hand, the paperwork is time consuming as it is difficult to work out how to stay legal”.

Mr Davies agrees, adding: “One of the main reasons for choosing this system was to save me the hours in the office every 12 months calculating manure stocks based on my herd numbers and working out if we were within the rules.

“Now I just give my cattle numbers for the year to Richard and the rest is all done for me. Omnia helps get the most from my manure as well as making it easy to tick the necessary legislation boxes.”

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