16 November 2001

Now, surge of interest in on-farm composting

By Andy Moore

INTERESTED in composting green waste as a means of diversification – but daunted by the barrier of red tape and machinery investment?

Shredding equipment supplier EuroGreen could come to the rescue with its latest on-farm composting advisory service which swung into operation in May.

Based near Worthing in West Sussex, EuroGreen started the service after an overwhelming response from farmers wanting to set up green waste recycling and on-farm composting sites to supplement their incomes.

"Increasing pressure on councils to process green waste has created a huge opportunity for producers to become involved in the buisness," says David McIntyre of EuroGreen. "Last year we were lucky to receive four inquiries a month from farmers – now we are getting regular enquires every day. We are currently helping 15 farms set up green waste recycling sites throughout the UK."

To set up a composting facility, the Environment Agency (EA) requires the farm to have a suitable site, waste management licence or registered exemption and planning permission to qualify for the change of business use.

Waste Management Licensing Exemptions allow businesses to set up a composting operation without the need to obtain a full licence.

The exemptions enable the composting of biodegradable waste under these conditions: On a site where the compost is produced or the compost is used.

The quantity of waste on the site does not exceed 1000cu m or 10,000cu m if compost is to be used for the growing of mushrooms at any time.

"To start the ball rolling, we visit the farm for half a day to discuss the applicants business plan, and provide technical advice and a site survey," adds Mr McIntyre. "We then put together a report and recommendation which is submitted to the Environment Agency."

The report requires details such as the types and daily/total quantities of each waste (including physical form) to be handled, together with source segregation and associated hazards.

Green waste in physical form includes material such as grass cuttings, tree branches, brushwood and leaves, together with rotten straw/hay and vegetable and fruit processing waste.

Foreign bodies

The EA requires an estimate of the daily quantities of waste to be handled in loads – with each one inspected on arrival, checked and sorted for any foreign bodies.

In addition, the report requires an estimate of the period of time the waste will be stored before it is processed. Shredding should start up to a maximum of 10 days from the time of delivery, says Mr McIntyre.

Further information includes details of site infrastructure such as the need to install an impermeable pavement with sealed drainage system together with containment or sheltering cover.

The EA is also concerned with the sites proximity to watercourses, prevailing winds, housing, businesses and surrounding vegetation.

"We also find out what the compost will be used for and where it will be spread on land," he explains. "If the waste is to be spread on fields, we need to know if it is capable of benefiting agricultural land and be of improvement to ecology at the proposed location."

After the report and recommendation are submitted, EuroGreen meets with the EA and planners to secure an Exemption Certificate.

"Weve had no applications rejected so far and they can be approved in a matter of weeks or up to six months," says Mr McIntyre. "Once the Exemption Certificate is granted, we can provide the farmer with training over the first cycle of compost production and monitor the quality of the end product. After the first cycle, we produce a final report on compost quality, highlighting areas which may need improvement."

To help farmers get off on the right foot, EuroGreen can sell or hire out shredders and screening machines.

The 7000, 9000 and 10000 Pezzolato shredders are designed to process up to 35, 75 and 120cu m of waste an hour. &#42

Mean machine…EuroGreen can sell and hire out shredders offering waste processing work rates up to 120cu m/hr. Inset: David McIntyre: "We have seen a surge in interest among producers wanting to set up green waste recycling sites."