13 November 1998

Whole farm input budget can save £s

WHOLE farm nutrient budgeting can save money and protect the environment, says FWAG.

A three-year study of overall inputs and outputs of nitrogen, potash and phosphorus on farms from Devon to Orkney found significant surpluses on all, says national technical manager, Richard Knight. "For some it was quite an eye-opener to see how big it was."

Cambs-based farm conservation adviser John Terry says: "Even though there is plenty of good practice going on there is room for improvement."

The EU-funded study, based on a Dutch model, was carried out with help from SAC, IACR Rothamsted and IGER. It showed that even small nutrient losses from apparently efficient farms can change the balance of wildlife in waterways, says Mr Knight.

He believes the findings offer a target reduction for growers to aim at voluntarily in advance of any extended legislation as on the Continent. Dutch farmers already face big fines for failing to control P and N levels of farms, he says.

"Nutrient budgeting is an issue no UK farmer can ignore." &#42