By FWi staff

WITH oilseed rape prices experiencing unprecedented lows, a valuable new market for rapemeal used as a fertiliser could enhance growers current incomes, according to research funded by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA).

UK organic farmers and horticulturists could utilise 10,000 tonnes of rapemeal fertiliser worth £200/t.

GM-free rapemeal is currently acceptable as a fertiliser for organic farmers under EC regulation and the area of land farmed organically has increased significantly in recent years, claims the HGCA.

Rapemeal fertilisers could be used on up to 19,000ha of organic arable and horticultural crops in the UK, providing 20-30kg N/ha.

Priced at £70/t rapemeal could also be used at a lawn care product with a potential market of up to 25,000 t/year and sports fields a further 5-10,000 t/year.

But the HGCA said it is unlikely that that rapemeal will have a place in conventional agriculture due to its competitiveness unless other benefits can be demonstrated.

Trials at Levington Agriculture and SAC sought to evaluate the response of turf to straight rapemeal and composted rapemeal as a nutrient source and method of moss control. The financial viability of rapemeal as a fertiliser was also assessed.

Dr Phil Wallace of Levington Agriculture said it was very difficult to establish a precise processing and marketing cost/tonne for rapemeal.

“But given that fertilisers for sports fields are currently priced about £400/t and that the cost of rapemeal has ranged from £54 to £138/t in the last few years, the margin would appear attractive to processors,” he added.