9 March 2001

Muck spreading ban a big financial blow

NORFOLK contractor Alister Waite was far from happy when he was forced to stop spreading muck two weeks ago because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Centred at Lessingham, the service has provided an invaluable mainstay throughout the firms quieter winter months.

"We were spreading up to 300t of muck a day using two spreaders and being forced to stop has caused a significant financial impact," says Mr Waite who runs Happisburgh Farm Company with four other directors. "But many of the mixed farms around our area have cattle, sheep and pigs, which create a high risk of spreading the disease."

To make ends meet, Mr Waite has been spreading slurry and sewage sludge cake together with ploughing and drilling which he hopes will be able to continue despite the threat of disease.

"The tankers and spreaders each have to be rigorously washed off before and after operation in the field, creating a lot of downtime," he says. "More worrying is that we still have 400 acres to plough – a third of which has been held over from the autumn due to bad weather."

In addition, Mr Waite says he has concerns about possible restrictions imposed on essential services such as emptying slurry lagoons and straw haulage.

"Straw is an essential commodity for livestock bedding in the South West and there is no way lorries should be prevented from travelling providing they are thoroughly disinfected," he believes. "We work with a general haulage company which is very prudent in ensuring its lorries and drivers are completely disinfected." &#42

Alister Waite: "Tankers and spreaders have to be rigorously washed."

Norfolk contractor Alister Wait has been forced to stop muck spreading and concentrate on hauling and disposing caked sewage sludge.