The EU categorisation of wool as a waste product must be revised to allow farmers to do more with their wool clip.
That is according to ICSA sheep chair, Sean McNamara, who revealed that as it stands, wool is classified as category three waste, along with animal carcasses.
“By virtue of this categorisation, farmers are prevented from spreading wool on their farms for use as a fertiliser or as compost.”
“This clearly makes no sense when we know that wool can be used to produce top-class fertiliser and can also be easily made into compost pellets.”
McNamara said wool should be considered a crop or a commodity from a sheep farm and not a by-product of a waste product.
“Wool is harvested from a live animal and is 100% natural. It should be classified as a valuable natural resource that is completely safe to spread on farms.”
“Sheep farmers have been grappling with shockingly low wool prices for well over a year now.”
“It makes it also makes clear economic sense for sheep farmers minimise their use of chemical fertiliser and use what is freely available to them.”
5,000 tons of wool fertiliser annually
ICSA organics chair Fergal Byrne added, “Fertiliser produced from wool is a natural weed suppressant which releases slowly into the ground.”
“A 25kg bag made from wool pellets delivers a 9-1-2 NPK mix. That is a nitrogen value of nine units, one unit of phosphorus and two units of potassium.”
“It also contains calcium, magnesium, sulphur, iron, and micronutrients. With the size of our national flock, we could potentially produce 5,000 tons of wool fertiliser annually using our domestic wool crop alone.”
Byrne said if we are serious about revitalising the Irish wool sector, the first step must be to change its current categorisation.
“Wool is not waste of any kind. It is a crop, and it needs to be classed as such so it can be viably put to use in all the various commercial and industrial ways it is suited to,” Byrne concluded.
We recently profiled a group of farmers who have found a direct route to market for their wool – see here.