The JSR Farming Group, one of the largest family-owned farming companies in the UK, has launched a new initiative to help farmers increase profitability and yields by using waste from pig production units.
Being at the forefront of sustainable agriculture, JSR demonstrates an effective synergy between its arable and pig sectors. Crops provide cereals for pig feed, while the muck and slurry from the pig production business is recycled to produce organic manure. This not only reduces artificial fertiliser costs (JSR has saved 30% annually), but also improves soil fertility.
JSR is looking to pass on these benefits to other arable farmers, giving them an opportunity to boost their own profits for a low-risk investment by encouraging them to house JSR pig finishing units on their land, using the resultant organic manures as a superb fertiliser.
“We’re looking to source additional bed-and-breakfast accommodation for our high-quality finishing pigs on long-term contracts,” JSR Farms‘ arable technical director, Philip Huxtable says. “This would appeal to farmers who perhaps have redundant buildings that could be converted into functional pig accommodation, or those who have the capital to invest in new, multi-functional buildings.
“It would enable them to generate an additional income stream, as we would pay them a rental income, with low labour requirements. Running a batch system generally requires one man-hour/day, which could easily fit within an arable operator’s workload.
“For a low-risk investment in the buildings and equipment, based on 1,000 pig places you can earn after costs a margin in excess of £31,000 a year, with payback on the capital invested of around six to eight years.”
With the value of organic fertiliser becoming well documented, the quality of the manure from these proposed new units can have a positive impact on farmers’ yield results.
Pig slurry has the highest proportion of readily available nitrogen in the form of Ammonium-N, which is the most available form to the growing crop. Over the last nine years where slurry has been applied to growing crops of wheat, JSR has seen an average yield increase of 0.65t/ha. In dry years the increase is even more impressive, being in excess of 1.0t/ha! At JSR slurry is used as a liquid fertiliser prior to planting potatoes and applied to growing crops of wheat and oilseed rape in the spring, when maximum demand for nutrients is required.
JSR’s pig accommodation initiative can also boost green credentials, as arable farmers will lower the amount of artificial fertilisers purchased, which significantly reduces carbon footprint. Green energy can also be used to bring down energy costs, as JSR uses both solar and wind turbine generation to reduce electricity costs at some of its pig units.
“JSR’s reputation for managing slurry and organic manure – or “liquid and solid gold”, as we call it – is well-known within the industry and we want to be able to use our skills and experience to provide assistance to other farmers in this area,” Mr Huxtable added.
“The finishing units will be responsible for labour, buildings and all overheads, while JSR supplies the pigs, feed and support. This assistance covers a number of areas, including pig production support, vet management, planning applications, finance planning, slurry application (subject to location) and advice on EPR applications.
“With the financial benefits involved, as well as the high quality of the fertiliser produced having a positive impact on soil quality and crops, we’re hopeful that local arable farmers will come on board and take advantage of this initiative.”