Adamson Contractors Northallerton

Farmers are increasingly adding value to slurry with microbial boosters to increase aeration, reduce ammonia losses and retain its fertiliser value. The Kelvin Cave product has a proven track record.

Slurries and farmyard manures have acquired a new value in the face of soaring fertiliser prices, and farmers increasingly rate their livestock waste as a costed resource. Research by ADAS has recently identified the value of FYM at over £500 per hectare at typical application rates, purely in terms of its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N, P and K) content, with further benefits to be gained through building soil quality and biodiversity.

But liquid slurry has a more mixed reputation, typically being anaerobic and encouraging the type of undesirable bacteria which thrive without oxygen. These offset some of the nutritional benefits of slurry by giving off gases such as hydrogen sulphide, with its rotten egg smell, or the equally noxious ammonia. The emission of these gases causes the double whammy of creating pollution at the same time as wasting a potentially valuable fertiliser resource.

So, farmers are increasingly seeking ways of capturing a greater fertiliser value from their slurry and many have turned this season to the slurry conditioner, Digest-It.

This microbial product has been demonstrated in independent Kingshay trials to increase available nitrogen in slurry by 13% over six weeks and 17% over eight weeks.

This has been shown to increase to 33% in other, longer trials, where the product has been in the slurry over the course of the winter. This level of improvement occurs because Digest-It captures the nutrients in slurry, most significantly, converting the ammonia-nitrogen into organic nitrogen, which would otherwise be given off as ammonia gas and wasted.

This has the dual benefit of increasing the stable organic-nitrogen that can be supplied to the crop but also cutting ammonia emissions. A further benefit of capturing the gas is that ammonia will shortly come under legislative control as part of the Clean Air Strategy, while air quality, for the first time, will become an objective in Countryside Stewardship grants.

Digest-It comprises a microbial culture, and is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, amino acids and carbon. These effectively provide a food source to promote the activity of aerobic microbial species, which is far more beneficial than anaerobic processes.

Having these aerobic bacteria in slurry results in a number of physical and chemical changes. These include breaking down crust, dissolving sediment and reducing the odour at spreading. The time taken for these changes to occur will depend on several factors, such as the quantity of solids and weather conditions, but changes are expected within four to six weeks of treatment. However, because activity increases over time, slurry conditioned this spring or summer will be far quicker to mix, easier to handle and less odorous at the time of spreading next autumn.

These benefits have been experienced by a Shropshire farmer and contractor who has used Digest-It on his own family’s and his customers’ farms. He says that unlike other bacterial slurry products he’s tried, he’s seen a range of physical and handling benefits and substantial financial savings in artificial fertiliser when using Digest-It. Read the full story.

Before Digest-It applied
After Digest-It applied

The before and after pictures above illustrate the observed improvements in slurry on Johnnie Park’s dairy farm in Gosforth, Cumbria. Read the full story.

The table below shows the changes in slurry composition over a six-week period before and after adding Digest-It:

The table above shows the changes in slurry composition over a six-week period before and after adding Digest-It:
Key benefits of the slurry conditioner, Digest-It

■ Captures ammonia-nitrogen before it is released as ammonia gas

■ Captures ammonia-nitrogen before it is released as ammonia gas
■ Reduces losses of nitrogen and sulphur so retaining fertiliser value
■ Stimulates aerobic microbial activity in slurry lagoons and stores
■ Digests suspended solids into plant-available liquid nutrients
■ Reduces surface crusting, solid waste and the need for desludging
■ Reduces unpleasant odours
■ Reduces biological oxygen demand (BOD) of resulting waste streams
■ Allows a quicker return to grazing on pastures after application
■ Certified for use on organic farms

If you would like to cut your fertiliser costs by making better use of slurry, please speak to your local representative or call the office on 01458 252281.

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