24 October 1997

Call for assured fertilisers

ASSURED fertiliser and more detailed farm records may be needed to meet food safety concerns.

Currently very few assurance schemes go beyond requiring a simple record of nutrient applications, Roger Chesher, agricultural technical manager for Kemira Agro told last weeks meeting of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association.

Only rarely is there a request to identify inputs other than N, P, K and little mention is made of trace elements. "In my experience the requirements are rather too vague." Full traceability could demand the makers name, brand and possibly batch number, and manufacturers have three clear responsibilities to help growers, said Mr Chesher.

"Every bag we produce should reach our own agreed standard and all legal requirements. We should ensure customers are aware of those standards. And we must ensure and demonstrate that those standards are met consistently and reliably."

Three options lie ahead. "We could give a declaration of assured specification with every order." Information overkill tends to rule that out, he suggested.

"We could supply details on request when a batch number is quoted. But my personal favourite is to have products declared as assured fertiliser." As such they would be monitored by an independent body or accredited as part of a BS or ISO scheme, he explained.

"But we must be aware of the risk attached to such an approach and of raising the profile of an issue where no issue yet exists."

Unwanted fertiliser components, particularly cadmium in phosphates, are likely to come under greater scrutiny, he added. Recommended maximum daily intakes of cadmium vary a lot between European countries.

The industry is currently working to a voluntary limit. If anything intakes seem to be declining, claimed Mr Chesher. "But there is no room for complacency."

Kemiras Roger Chesher… fertilisers need quality assurance.

NUTRIENT ASSURANCE

&#8226 More fertiliser records.

&#8226 Assured Fertiliser?

&#8226 Cadmium concern.