29 March 2002

On-farm waste can give extra income

Cheap to produce, environmentally friendly and organic, on-farm

composting can provide producers with valuable extra income, insists

the Composting Association. Andy Moore kicks off this special feature

WITH high EU targets imposed to cut land-filled biodegradable waste, there is a significant commercial opportunity for farms to become involved with composting.

According to the Composting Association, in 1999 there were 65 on-farm composting sites processing 67,000t of organic waste in the UK.

But, as targets escalate, 2m tonnes need to be recycled by the end of next year to meet demands set by the governments Waste Strategy 2000 scheme prompted by the EU Landfill Directive.

Although the bulk of this tonnage will be composted through large-scale facilities, the association says farms can play a large part in recycling and composting organic waste.

"In the UK there is roughly 2.6m ha of agricultural land that could benefit from the use of compost," says the associations communications manager Vicky Woods. "The greatest opportunity for farmers is to produce compost on a small scale from green waste recycled on their farm which can be spread as a fertile product on their land."

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, in most cases, planning permission if there is a change of business use.

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

The main conditions to qualify for the exemptions include the following: On a site where the waste is produced or the compost is used; the quantity of waste on the site does not exceed 1000cu m or 10,000cu m if the compost is to be used for the growing of mushrooms at any one time.

"Of the 65 on-farm sites in 1999, 23 out of 27 surveyed were allowed to operate a composting facility under a registered exemption," adds Vicky Woods. "Out of this number, 12 did not require planning permission because they used the compost on their own land and produced no more than 1000cu m at any one time. This quantity, however, is currently under review."

The principal objectives of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations are not to cause pollution to the environment, harm to health and serious detriment to the amenity of the locality.

In detail, these conditions are concerned with prevailing winds and the sites nearness to housing, businesses, watercourses and surrounding vegetation.

To set-up a composting site, the EA requires a report from the applicant outlining details such as the types and daily/total quantities of each waste to be handled, together with source segregation and associated hazards.

In addition, the report requires an estimate of the period of time the waste will be stored before it is processed.

The EA also needs to know if the compost is capable of benefiting agricultural land and if it will improve ecology at the proposed spreading location.

The commercial opportunity alongside composting is green waste recycling where gate fees can be charged from £15/t to £25/t to the waste supplier.

"Under licensing exemptions, the average on-farm operation produces up to 2000t/year of compost and achieves a contribution to the profit margin of about £5000-£10,000," says the associations Trelawney Dampney. "This is based on an £18/t gate fee after shredding, screening and windrow turning costs are deducted, assuming that the site infrastructure is already in place."

Biodegradable waste mainly includes green material such as tree branches, hedge/grass cuttings and shrubs supplied by the council, public and waste management companies.

But Emily Nichols, technical manager of the association, believes farms could cast their composting net wider and process a range of biodegradable waste.

"In addition to municipal waste, there is a variety of material which can be processed such as paper, MDF, coffee and brewery waste," she says. "Composting this material rather than sewage sludge or waste foodstuffs poses no risk to the livestock and human food chain. The EU and government are considering imposing strict regulations on the way such waste is composted."

The average price of finished compost is £4/cu m or £8/t which can increase to £25/t for a high quality product, says the Composting Association. &#42

Rotten times to sweeter times. Two million tonnes of organic waste will need to be recycled in the UK by the end of next year.


Make Power source Intake type Infeed Rotor diameter Number of Capacity

and model opening (mm) x width (mm) hammers per hour

Arbour Eater Brushwood Chippers 01293-862036 – Pezzolato

Piranha 300 36hp engine or 25hp pto chute na na x 35 40 4-7cu m

Piranha 400 36hp engine or 30hp pto chute na na x 50 64 5-8cu m

Piranha 600 65hp engine or 50hp pto hopper and conveyor na na x 50 64 6-10cu m

Piranha 7000 47hp engine or 50hp pto hopper/chain conveyor na 530 x na 64 20cu m

Chippers International 01789-414871 – Gandini

Biomatich 81 TPS/TTS 35-70hp pto chute/feed rollers 260 x 150 500 x 250 10 15cu m

Biomatich 81 MTS 32hp engine chute/feed rollers 260 x 150 500 x 250 10 15cu m

Biomatich 85 TPS/TTS 50-100hp pto chute and chain conveyor 410 x 220 500 x 400 15 25cu m

Biomatich 85 MTS 50hp engine chute and chain conveyor 410 x 220 500 x 400 15 25cu m

Biomatich 89 TTS 50-100hp pto hopper/chain conveyor 410 x 220 500 x 1000 15 25cu m

Biomatich 89 MTS 50hp engine hopper/chain conveyor 410 x 220 500 x 1000 15 25cu m

Biomatich 91 TTS 90-180hp pto hopper/chain conveyor 1200 x 400 750 x 1200 40 30-60cu m

Biomatich 91 MTS 180hp engine hopper/chain conveyor 1200 x 400 750 x 1200 40 30-60cu m

Note: TPS – three point linkage mounted; TTS – trailed; MTS – trailed engine powered

Doppstadt UK 01698-307172 – Doppstadt

DW 2060 Biber 156hp engine hopper/slat conveyor 2100 x 3000 600 x 2000 14 teeth 60cu m

Gannon UK 01400-272475 – Dura Tech

HD 8 series 5 130hp engine tub/gravity 698 x 629 406 x 660 40 4t/hour

HD 9 series 1 275hp engine tub/gravity 1041 x 635 406 x 1016 32 fixed 64 swing 10t/hour

HD 10P series 5 460hp engine tub/gravity 635 x 1143 406 x 1117 66 15t/hour

HD 12 series 4 503 or 650hp engine tub/gravity 622 x 1485 406 x 1422 56 25t/hour

GreenMech 01789-400044 – GreenMech

SM 1400-110 110hp engine or pto hopper/slat conveyor 1400 x 280 180 x 1400 32 discs 5-8t/hour

Harry West (Prees) 01948-840465 – Seko

SAM 4 400/50-GT 40hp pto tub/gravity 1220 x 2000 400 x 2600 na 10-12cu m

SAM 4 450/90-GT 70hp pto tub/gravity na 450 dia* na 25-30cu m

SAM 4 500/130-GT 80hp pto tub/gravity 1650 x 3100 500 x 3750 na 35-40cu m

SAM 4 500/150-GT 90hp pto tub/gravity 1700 x 3800 500 x 4300 na 40-45cu m

SAM 4 600/170-GT 100hp pto tub/gravity na 600 dia* na 45-50cu m

SAM 4 600/200-GT 110hp pto tub/gravity na 600 dia* na 55-60cu m

Notes: * Blades are attached to flights on spiral auger, two on each machine. Some models are available through Rekord 01827-712424.

K & K Whistance 01981-540870 – Mutti International

Orion 9mq 75hp pto or 75hp engine tub/gravity 1950 x 3600 na/* na 25-30cum

Taurus 12mq 100hp pto or 100hp engine tub/gravity 2010 x 4270 na/* na 35-40cu m

Hercules 15mq 125hp pto or 125hp engine tub/gravity 2100 x 4770 na/* na 40-45cu m

Hercules 18mq 125hp pto or 125hp engine tub/gravity 2210 x 4940 na/* na 45-52cu m

Notes: * Blades are attached to flights on spiral auger, two on each machine.

Kendall Machinery UK 01444-831008 – Bandit

Beast 2680 275-325hp engine horizontal feed 600 x 1500 na 60 20-60t/hour

Stewart Lumber 01389-751154 – Pezzolato

S7000 70-114hp engine hopper and conveyor 530 x 200 670 x 2350 64 20cu m

S 9000 160hp engine or pto hopper/slat conveyor 1800 x 350 780 x 1000 96 40cu m

S 10000 220hp engine or pto hopper/slat conveyor 1800 x 400 960 x 1000 80 60cu m

Westcon Equipment 01202-980380 – Jenz

AZ 30-80 105hp engine hopper/slat conveyor 300 x 790 620 x 790 22 7-12t/hour

AZ 35-120 280hp engine hopper/slat conveyor 450 x 1200 820 x 1200 30 20-25t/hour

Note: On Seko and Mutti auger shredding and mixing machines, the infeed opening dimensions refers to hopper length and width.