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Farming contractors urged to sign up to assurance scheme

By David Porter

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Contractors applying recycled organic materials to land are encouraged to take part in a scheme to ensure they minimise the risks to others.

The Spreading Organic Materials Assurance Scheme (SOMA) was launched by SAC Consulting – part of SRUC in late 2018.

It was aimed at providing a professional standard for contractors applying non-farm organic materials - such as wastepaper and biosolids to land to demonstrate they could perform their role with the highest level of duty of care.

However, with regulations being tightened in recent years and the deadlines for change set out in the Clean Air Strategy, it is becoming ever more important for individuals to gain accreditation.

As well as providing an excellent source of nutrients for farming businesses, the use of non-farm organic materials helps in the drive towards Net Zero by using products that might once have been classed as a waste.

It also has financial benefits, allowing farmers to buy cheaper recycled materials instead of fertiliser.

SAC Consultant Neil Carter, who designed the scheme, said: “SOMA was created because regulations required operators to demonstrate ‘technical competence’ but there was no definition of what that meant.

"It provides the standard through which operators can prove that they have technical competence in their role.

“While it was originally set up in 2018, the increasing level of scrutiny at farm level means this scheme is now more important than ever.

“Changes to subsidy and the move to a scheme in England where farmers will need to demonstrate public benefit in order to receive public funds, mean that an accredited standard, which shows that materials are being used properly with minimal risk to the environment, could well stand farmers in good stead.”

For more information about how to apply please call 01539 769 059 or email soma@sac.co.uk

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