Mapping Manure - Jim Clark - Farming Scotland Magazine

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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 exampled where contractors are being used for fertiliser application, the maps generated by Omnia are easy to understand and follow.