20 October 1995

Vouchers for soil testing?

VOUCHERS to encourage more farmers to undertake soil tests should be incorporated into the CAP support system.

That was a view expressed by Barry Higgs, director of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association at last weeks FMA conference "Management to minimise nutrient losses".

Part of the EU funds received as area aid should come as soil test vouchers, suggested Mr Higgs.

Those vouchers could only be spent on what LEAF project co-ordinator Caroline Drummond described as "an essential management tool".

Already in USA

Rothamsted consultant and soil specialist "Johnny" Johnston noted that a voucher-style scheme already seemed to be in operation in parts of the US, where growers were obliged to enter into "total nutrient management packages" to qualify for state aid.

Parts of Germany are also operating similar systems involving "MOT-style" tests for fertiliser spreaders, said Miss Drummond. And Denmark recognises the value of soil tests by requiring all potential tenants to be trained in all aspects of fertiliser management, she added.