What is the farmer’s experience of using recycling-derived fertilisers?

Recycling-derived fertilisers (RDFs) are recycled products from different sources that can be used to replace mineral fertilisers. These RDF products have a high nutrient value, are readily available, and are safe to use. Farmers in seven countries across NW Europe were surveyed to determine their experience of using 15 different RDF products. A high number of participants took part in the survey, 1225 in total, including 250 participants in Belgium, 679 in France, 65 in Germany, 149 in Ireland, two in Luxembourg, 73 in the Netherlands and seven in the United Kingdom.

Overall, there were 864 responses to the question, “Have you used RDFs before”. 55% of those that participated with the question responded: “Yes” (471 responses).  The highest “Yes” response was from Belgium (Figure 1), with 62% (96 participants), followed by 59% (306 participants) from those in France and 55% (23 participants) from those in the Netherlands. On the other hand, only 23% (23 participants) of the participants in Ireland had previously used RDF. There were no responses from participants in Luxembourg. The two highest age groups (Figure 1) that had previously used RDF were the 65 or older (22 responses) group with 63% and the 40 to 54 group (226 responses) with 58%. The lowest age group that had used RDFs before were the 24 or younger group with 35% (seven participants).

Following this, the RDF users experience was assessed by asking the question “How would you rate your experience of using RDFs?” In total, there were 978 responses to the question from 451 respondents. Overall, the farmers had a very positive experience using RDFs. The RDF users experience per country (Figure 2) was investigated, to determine if the participants' experience was positive in each of the seven participating countries. Figure 2 suggests that every participating country had a positive or very positive experience using RDFs. The country that displayed the highest positive experience was the United Kingdom (one response) with 100%, followed by Ireland (26 responses) with 84% having a positive experience. There were no responses from participants in Luxembourg.

To promote the use of RDFs by farmers and encourage farmers to substitute mineral fertilisers with RDFs, it is important to know from the farmers that use RDFs, what their experiences are with using them. Overall over 50% of survey participants utilise RDFs (Figure 1), excluding Ireland.  Although only 23% of participants from Ireland have used RDFs, Figure 2 suggests that RDF users in Ireland have had one of the highest positive or very positive experiences using RDF products compared to the other participating countries. The three older age groups also have more experience using RDFs compared to the younger groups. The positive experience from respondents in all participating countries using RDFs, is encouraging and suggests that there is a keen interest and desire from the farmers, particularly in the older age groups, to make a change from mineral fertilisers to RDFs.

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