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Farmers warned about illegal waste woodchip

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is asking farmers to be aware of poor quality waste wood chip being used as animal bedding.

Following recent investigations, NRW has found that some farmers are unknowingly buying sub-standard waste woodchip, using it as animal bedding then spreading it to land - unaware of the risks. 

This woodchip has been produced from treated wood, and could contain harmful and potentially hazardous substances.  

Farmers who use this type of animal bedding should check where their product has come from by asking the supplier if the wood chip has been produced from previously treated waste wood. 

If they are concerned that they may have accepted treated waste woodchip should report it to NRW’s hotline on 0300 065 3000. 

Emma Killian, Waste Policy Advisor from Natural Resources Wales said: 

“We’ve already found this on a number of farms and the farmers were completely unaware that they’d purchased poor quality woodchip which has been illegally produced. 

“There could be harmful substances within the woodchip, which could harm livestock.  If this is then mixed with slurry and spread onto fields it could introduce chemicals and pollutants into the ground. 

“Our advice to farmers is to always check the quality of the product before purchasing, and if in any doubt, don’t be afraid to say no and report it to us.” 

Waste woodchip is suitable for animal bedding, providing it is produced from untreated waste wood and a U8 waste exemption is registered with Natural Resources Wales. This is a simple, free online process available on the NRW website.

Good quality woodchip should be produced from untreated wood, so it is clean and safe for livestock and for spreading.  When this woodchip has been used and is mixed in with farm slurry or manures, it can be composted and spread to agricultural land. 

NRW would also like to remind farmers to use the land spreading checklist, which was produced in collaboration with Farming Unions.

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