For many farmers managing and recording manure is a constant challenge 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.
For many mixed farmers who are managing large numbers of livestock alongside cropping, the paperwork is an extra burden on an already heavy work load.
This was the position that Award winning dairy farmer Michael Howie of Morwick Dairy near Acklington, Northumberland found himself back in Autumn 2018.
He wanted to move away from using hand written records and find a system that would not only allow him to remain compliant but also maximise the considerable benefits from utilising the organic manures from his 200 strong milking herd of pedigree Holsteins and Ayrshires across his arable cropping.
On the advice of agronomist Conor Campbell of Hutchinsons, Mr Howie introduced the web-based software system Omnia manure management system onto Morwick Dairy.
Omnia generates 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, says Mr Campbell.
“Whilst other systems may carry out nutrient management calculations, they don’t generate the necessary risk maps.”
“So using Omnia we are able to produce organic manure maps for each field on a field scale or zoned sub-field basis."
“I can then use 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.”
Mr Howie has found the transition onto the Omnia system very easy and straightforward.
“It’s a simple and intuitive system and we very pleased with how the technology has delivered on its promises – having all of our records in one place and knowing that we are compliant makes the investment excellent value for money.”
“Historically the home fields used to get most of the muck and slurry and those fields further away would get the bagged fertiliser and this is something we needed to change.”
Mr Campbell finds the ability to tailor services to individual farm requirements within Omnia 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.”“Through regular soil sampling and inputting the results into Omnia we have been able to gain a real-time picture of where the nutrients are really needed and address hungry crops sooner whilst also saving money where fertiliser is not needed.”
The Howie family has farmed at Morwick since 1945. Today Michael, wife Angie and son Peter and milk over 200 pedigree Holsteins and Ayrshires. The herd has won many show championships over the years topped by the 2002 triumph when Morwick Sand Queen won the prestigious accolade of Supreme Dairy Champion at both the Royal Highland and Royal Show.
Michael Howie is the Vice President of the Ayrshire Society, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who were both Presidents. He also holds the position of Vice Chairman on the board of NE Grains, a grain storage and marketing company.
In 2003 a purpose-built ice cream parlour was developed in some of the outbuildings at Morwick and the success of this venture was confirmed when Morwick Dairy Ice cream won the 2017 Farmer of the Year award in the North East Rural Awards.