25 July 1997

Cash offered to prime fert project

FACTS, the Fertiliser Advisers Certification and Training Scheme, is seeking bids from organisations willing to develop a technical information service which will provide easy access to information for all involved in advising on fertiliser use.

DTI Sector Challenge Funding will finance the new service. The key objectives will be to provide convenient and ready access to relevant research and development work, codes of practice, and other advisory and legislative material.

It will give advisers involved in plant nutrition the opportunity to gain expert opinion and generally improve their knowledge as part of their continuing professional development. It will be available to subscribers only.

"With around £35,000 available to pump prime, this initiative we are looking for proposals that will establish this service fully by December 1998," says Jane Salter of the FACTS TIS project office.

&#8226 Farmers used 2% less fertilisers last year, according to the 1996 British Survey of Fertiliser Practice. However, while the use of nitrogen, phosphate and potash declined slightly, sulphur usage increased. This was especially so on oilseed rape where half of the crop in Scotland is now treated.

"The combination of reduced application rates and set-aside land has lead to a reduction in overall fertiliser consumption of almost 10% in the five years since 1990/91. Seen against increased yields and a reduction in cultivated land of 3.2%, this refutes claims of increasing and excessive fertiliser use," says FMA director general Barry Higgs.