Guidance

Making fertiliser from processed animal by-products (ABPs)

Find out how to make fertiliser from processed ABPs including bonemeal, and if you need approval to manufacture, store or transport it.

This guide applies to organic fertilisers or soil improvers that contain any of the following processed animal by-products (ABPs):

  • processed animal proteins (PAP), a type of category 3 ABP
  • meat and bone meal that is a category 2 ABP
  • processed blood

Read a description of ABP categories to find out what category 2 ABPs and PAP are.

For guidance on other types of ABPs that can also be used as fertiliser, read specific guidance on:

When you need approval to manufacture fertiliser

You need approval to manufacture fertiliser in the following circumstances:

  • you produce fertiliser at an approved ABP processing plant (you’ll need approval to manufacture fertiliser as well as approval to operate an ABP processing plant)
  • you process digestate to produce prill (pellets) using a heat treatment
  • you manufacture complex fertilisers, eg you mix sterilised poultry manure with seaweed or inorganic material (contact your nearest Animal and Plant Health Agency field office if you are unsure if your fertiliser is complex)

Contact your nearest APHA field office to apply for approval.

When you need to register as a manufacturer

You need to register with APHA (but you don’t need approval) if either of the following apply:

  • you purchase pre-processed ABP material but add an authorised mixing component so it can be sold as fertiliser
  • you repackage pre-processed ABP material as fertiliser for use in gardening or on sports grounds (in this guide gardening refers to the cultivation of a garden, orchard or nursery to grow flowers, fruits, vegetables or ornamental plants at a private home or as part of a business)

Contact your nearest APHA field office to register.

When you need approval to store fertiliser

You need approval to store fertiliser except in the following circumstances:

  • you’re already approved or registered to manufacture fertiliser
  • the fertiliser is stored where it’s going to be applied (eg at a farm, garden or sports ground)
  • the fertiliser has entered the retail chain (eg fertiliser can be stored at a garden centre without approval)

A storage warehouse for a chain of garden centres needs approval to store fertiliser, as does any warehouse receiving pre-packaged fertiliser imported from another country (in or outside the EU) via a border inspection post.

Contact your nearest APHA office to apply for approval to store fertiliser.

Registration requirements for businesses that transport fertiliser

Hauliers transporting fertiliser need to register on the ABP transport database.

Hauliers transporting bulk (unpackaged) consignments of fertiliser also need to register on the TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) database.

Contact your nearest APHA office to register on the ABP transport or TSE databases.

How to process ABP material for use in fertiliser

You can’t use category 1 ABPs in fertiliser.

You must process other ABPs before they can be used:

Find out what ABP category your material fits into.

Adding a mixing component before use as a fertiliser

You must add an authorised mixing component to any processed ABPs that this guidance applies to before you can use them as fertiliser. The mixing component is added to alert people that they should not allow farm animals to have access to it.

The only exception is if the fertiliser is supplied in ready to sell packages of 50kg or less for use by final consumers in gardening or on sports grounds.

Authorised mixing components for dry fertiliser products

You can use these mixing components for dry fertiliser products that need to be mixed:

  1. Wood shavings (not bark chippings) that are:
    • from clean and recently cut ‘virgin’ timber that has not been treated with paint or preservatives
    • filtered to remove large pieces of wood
    • screened to remove dust and other non-wood substances
  2. Limestone chips, grit or pellets of 2 to 5 millimetres in diameter.

  3. Inorganic fertiliser pellets of 2 to 5 mm in diameter.

The mixing component has to make up more than 2% of the volume of the final fertiliser product.

Authorised mixing components for wet fertiliser products

You can use these mixing components for liquid fertiliser products that need to be mixed:

For processed blood use either:

  • hydrated lime (calcium dihydroxide solution in water)
  • 1 to 1.5% solution of caustic soda until the final product

Add either mixing component until the fertiliser has a pH of between 9 and 10.

For fish meal suspension use:

  • 10 millilitres of duramine solution per litre of fish meal suspension (duramine solution is duramine blue FCF 250% diluted to a 2.5% stock solution - 25 kilograms of duramine per 1,000 litres of water)

How to record mixing components

You must record details of the authorised mixing component that you have used in the commercial document for the product.

For example: contains 1% caustic soda solution (pH of final product 9-10).

How to propose new mixing components

You can propose new mixing components by contacting:

Lead Veterinary Officer
National Feed Audit
APHA
Kendal Rd
Harlescott
Shrewsbury
SY1 4HD
Telephone: 01743 450 625

You’ll have to provide samples of your proposed mixing component. Any mixing component that you suggest should:

  • discourage animals from feeding on the fertiliser
  • not harm animal health if it is ingested
  • not have an adverse impact on the environment
  • be able to be easily mixed into fertiliser
  • be readily available and not expensive to obtain
  • be visible to inspectors after it has been mixed

How and when to test your products for bacteria

You must send samples of your fertiliser for laboratory testing to check your products don’t pose a risk to public and animal health.

You must submit samples each week for testing for the following bacteria:

  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Salmonella

You should take your samples either when your product is in storage or when you take it out of storage. Processors processing liquid blood can take samples as the processed blood leaves the cooker.

Find out more about laboratory testing requirements for ABPs including where to send them for testing and how to interpret results.

Record keeping and commercial documents requirements

You must follow the same commercial record keeping practice as the rest of the ABP industry.

Retailers such as garden centres selling to non-business customers within the UK don’t need to keep records or use commercial documents.

How to label your products

You must follow the rules on labelling ABPs when moving or storing any product containing ABPs.

Any finished fertiliser product covered by this guidance also needs to be labelled: ‘organic fertilisers or soil improvers: no grazing of farmed animals or use of crops as herbage for at least 21 days following application’.

If you can’t label the product for some reason (for example if the product is a bulk consignment of liquid processed blood) you have to provide the same message in writing to the landowner when you deliver the goods.

You don’t have to label fertiliser if it meets all of the following conditions:

  • weighs 50kg or less
  • will be sold directly to final consumers without repackaging
  • is intended for use in gardening or on sports grounds

Additional requirements for fertiliser containing dried blood, hoofs or horns

You must provide accompanying documentation or attach a label to fertilisers containing the following ABPs, declaring nitrogen content as a percentage of the product’s overall weight:

  • dried blood
  • hoofs
  • hoofs and horns

The nitrogen content of any sample taken from a product must be within 0.5 percentage points of the content level you declared.

Additional requirements for fertiliser containing bone phosphate

You must provide accompanying documentation or attach a label to fertilisers containing precipitated bone phosphate or dicalcium bone phosphate, declaring phosphorus pentoxide content as a percentage of the product’s overall weight.

The phosphorus pentoxide content of any sample taken from a product must fall within 1 percentage point of the content level you declared.

Additional requirements for fertiliser containing meat or bone meal or fish manure or guano

You must provide accompanying documentation or attach a label to fertilisers containing any of the following ABPs, declaring nitrogen and phosphorus pentoxide content as percentages of the overall product weight:

  • bone meal
  • meat and bone meal
  • meat meal
  • meat and bone tankage
  • carcase meal
  • steamed bone flour
  • steamed bone meal
  • fish guano
  • fish manure

The nitrogen content of any sample taken from a product must fall within 0.5 percentage points of the content level you declared. The phosphorus pentoxide content of any sample taken from a bone meal product must fall within 1.5 percentage points of the content level you declared. The phosphorus pentoxide content of a sample taken from a product containing any of the other ABPs must fall within 1 percentage point of the content level you declared.

Additional requirements for fertiliser containing raw guano

You must provide accompanying documentation or attach a label to fertiliser containing raw guano declaring nitrogen, phosphorus pentoxide and potassium oxide content as percentages of the overall product weight.

The nitrogen content of any sample taken from a raw guano product must be within 20 percent of the content level you declared, and no more than:

  • 1.5 percentage points above the content level you declared
  • 0.25 percentage points below the content level you declared

The phosphorus pentoxide content of any sample taken from a raw guano product must be within 10 percent of the content level you declared and no more than 2 percentage points above the content level you declared.

The potassium oxide content of any sample taken from a raw guano product must be within 20 percent of the content level you declared.

Additional requirements for fertiliser containing pulverised sea shells

You must provide accompanying documentation or attach a label to fertiliser containing pulverised seas shells declaring the neutralising value. The neutralising value must be expressed as the calcium oxide equivalent content as a percentage of the overall product weight. The calcium oxide equivalent content of any sample taken from a product must be within 5 percent of the content level you declared.