Farming Connect have announced that they are funding a pilot project that will see two farms in Powys using rock dust as a nutrient on grassland. The dust comes from basalt rocks from a quarry in Builth Wells and it will be spread across 24. Hectares on Upper House Farm in Hawau and Treforgan Farm in Dolau. There will then be comparisons made between the areas on the farms that have had the basalt dust spread on them, other areas that will receive basalt and fertilizer and a control area that won’t receive any nutrient intervention at all.
The aim is to repeat the process in the spring, on fields that are designated to grow silage or grass and monitor the results at that time for comparison also. There will be further research done on soil samples taken before and after spreading the basalt dust.
The hope is that the pilot will lead the way for more sustainable means of farming, reducing the reliance on fertilizers dependent on oil for production. Currently basalt rock costs £40 a ton, so it could represent an opportunity for farmers to reduce costs significantly.
The results of the project will be shared at the end of 2024 after the pilot has ended.
The Farming Connect Try-Out Fund gives money to projects that want to trial new ideas or attempt to innovate in the agricultural sector. A new funding window has opened since 9 October 2023 and will run until 20 October 2023. Successful applicant can get up to £5,000 to realise their plant.
Non Williams who is overseeing the basalt project said:
‘Funding can be used for technical assistance, sampling, testing and other reasonable expenses such as those relating to short term hire of specialist equipment or facilities directly relating to the project.’