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Plasterboard to become animal bedding

Plasterboard is poised to save resources and money in the UK dairy industry which uses 9,200 tonnes of animal bedding every day.

Leading independent dairy consultants, the Dairy Group will benefit from £69,000 of Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) funding in developing and evaluating the potential of using a bedding material made from recycled plasterboard.

With 2.2 million dairy cows in this country, the industry currently uses 1.7 million tonnes of bedding during the winter housing period- an estimated annual outlay of £66 million.

With inorganic material such as recycled plasterboard able to restrict bacterial growth and promote udder health, it has great potential as a bedding material.

And if just five per cent of dairy farmers were to adopt this approach, it would save more than 80,000 tonnes of waste plasterboard from landfill.

A second project has been handed £53,000 to demonstrate that recycled gypsum from waste plasterboard can be an effective soil conditioner on commercial arable farms.

The largest farm management company in the UK, Velcourt, will look into previous findings that applying gypsum to soils can improve soil structure and the efficiency of uptake of nutrients and minerals by plants.

These effects have both economic and environmental benefits through extending the weather windows in which the land can be worked, improved plant health and allowing more efficient use of inorganic fertilisers.

Also, with the increasing cost of virgin mineral gypsum deterring many farmers from its use, recycled gypsum is not fundamentally different, but can be obtained at a much lower cost.

WRAP materials project officer for plasterboard Dave Marsh said: “We are very pleased to announce these trials in applications which will not only provide benefits to farmers but also divert significant quantities of plasterboard waste from being disposed of to landfill.

“We will be working with the Dairy Group and Velcourt to promote these applications to farmers and provide guidance in their use.”

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