Become an Assured Land-based Contractor (ALBC) and demonstrate to your customers that you are a professional.
The ALBC scheme is an independently audited set of standards, with quality control and traceability as essential elements. Being a member of ALBC provides customers with genuine assurance that the contractor’s work is carried out in a safe, professional and traceable way.
The NAAC runs a successfully adopted scheme for mobile feed milling and mixing contractors, and also a post-harvest treatment scheme – both of which have helped to increase professionalism and boost industry stewardship. They are both recognised by Red Tractor. The NAAC also runs an agricultural operations (including slurry spreading) and verified seed standards.
To become assured, contractors have to meet the criteria of a generic standard, followed by gaining assurance in one of 4 sector standards: verified seed processing, mobile feed milling and mixing, post-harvest treatment or agricultural operations.
All assured contractors must pass the Generic standard audit, which builds a framework of professionalism and safe working practices. Each scheme then has its own sector specific standard.
Download the Generic standard
(updated January 2021)
This scheme helps mobile seed processing contractors to identify the hazards and critical control points: personnel to be suitably skilled, seed materials to be traceable and free from contamination, appropriate storage for raw materials, maintain and clean processing equipment and keep accurate records.
Download the Verified Seed standard
(dated 2010, reviewed 2018)
By becoming an ALBC Mobile Feed contractor, members can prove they have a full understanding of the critical points of the feed production process: personnel are suitably skilled, bought in feed materials are traceable and free from contamination, there is appropriate storage for raw materials, mixing equipment is clean and maintained, there is a ‘uniform mix’ of ingredients and accurate records are kept.
Download the Mobile Feed standard
(dated 2010, reviewed 2018)
This scheme helps those involved in post-harvest potato treatment to demonstrate their control of the process: personnel are suitably skilled, storage and transport meets legal requirements, emergency procedures and accurate records are in place.
Download the Post-Harvest Treatment standard
(updated October 2020)
Those involved can identify the hazards and critical control points: personnel are suitably skilled, machinery is safe and maintained, accurate records are kept and processes take account of the protection of the environment. Covers general agricultural operations/agricultural by-products and biosolids/compost/digestate/granular and liquid fertilisers/plant protection products.
Download the Agricultural Operations standard
(updated January 2021)
Applications for the NAAC ALBC scheme are made via the SCI website.
If you are not currently a member of NAAC and would like to join please do that first here, so you can pay the reduced ALBC fees.
After you have made payment (online by debit/credit card or by bank transfer), SCI will book your first audit and subsequent audits with you, as well as take your annual ALBC renewal fees.
NAAC will be available to ALBC assured contractors as they progress through the scheme.
NAAC members who undertake ALBC have access to a record keeping pack which will help with preparing for annual audits.
Each of the four schemes (verified seed, mobile feed, post-harvest treatment and agricultural operations) costs £299 per year for NAAC members, or £449 if you are not a member of the NAAC. You can become assured in more than one scheme.
If you have additional units or sites that will need to be audited, there is an extra cost of £50 per site.
For those signing up to the agricultural operations scheme, you can add modules in crop spraying and spreading to land, at £25 per module.
All fees incur VAT at the current rate of 20%.
There are some discounts available: £150 discount per scheme if you are a member of the NAAC, £75 discount if you undertake two schemes, and £100 discount if you undertake three schemes.
When joining ALBC you have to agree to:
Applications for the NAAC ALBC scheme are made via the SCI website. When applying you will need to choose the assurance scheme or schemes you’d like to join. All contractors are audited against the generic scheme, and one or more specialist schemes.
Information you will need to have available when applying:
SCI will contact the new applicant to arrange the audit within a maximum of 14 calendar days of the application being received.
SCI will carry out the audit.
Non-conformances must be closed within 3 months of the initial assessment or within 28 days of any subsequent assessment.
An annual audit will take place within 8-14 months of the previous audit, on renewal.
If an audit does not take place within 14 months of the previous audit, the contractor will lose their assured status and be removed from the List of Assured Contractors on the NAAC website: https://www.naac.co.uk/listofalbc/ (exemptions may apply if beyond the contractor’s control).
The first audit certificate will be issued within 5 days of the first audit being completed and all non-conformances being signed off.
On renewal, certificates will be issued on renewal dates. However, following the audit, if non-conformances are not closed off within 28 days the certificate will be withdrawn and the contractor removed from the List of Assured Contractors on the NAAC website.
The certificate will be dated 12 months after the previous certificate date.
Once certification is achieved the contractor will be listed on the NAAC’s List of Assured Contractors: https://www.naac.co.uk/listofalbc/
We talked to Richard Scholes of Innovate Agri Ltd about his reasons for joining the Assured Land Based Contractor (ALBC) scheme, and his experience of the process.
Tell us a bit about your company, and why you decided to do ALBC?
At Innovate Agri Ltd we provide a range of operations to farming businesses across East and North Yorkshire as well as working closely with other contractors providing specialist services.
One of our key services is large capacity, wide spread muck spreading and it’s particularly this operation that drew us initially to the ALBC. We spread a full range of organic matter, from standard types of FYM through to poultry litter and increasing amounts of biosolids. When spreading products, particularly biosolids, ALBC provides a framework and a ‘rubber stamp’ for the level of accuracy and attention to detail we are working at. Going forward this will be of increasing importance as the requirements for organic matter application are likely to tighten under new legislation and/or farmers adopting the ELMS scheme.
How did you find the audit process?
The audit process was straightforward, but not for the faint-hearted as it is certainly not a simple box ticking process; this is a robust standard, as I believe it needs to be. Professional contractors may well be able to adopt its requirements with a few tweaks and improvements to their existing processes, but it will take a bit of work.
The whole process did take time, and I chose a quieter time of year (is there really one??!) to work through all the requirements I needed to put in place. The investment of time was really well worthwhile though as I’ve come away with a completely refreshed business platform to work from. I took a ‘new broom sweeps clean’ approach, and the NAAC resources available in the Members Area helped greatly with this without costing anything, other than time.
How has ALBC benefitted your business?
Undertaking ALBC has allowed us to adopt a great structure, not only to cover the specifics required by the ALBC, but also helped tidy up our legal requirements and obligations as a business generally.
Having completed the ALBC process, we now have data collected that we may not have otherwise captured, which can certainly be used to aid our future decision making.
ALBC is also great from an employee point of view and the culture it embeds in the business. Part of the ALBC process involved creating a great online resource of key documents, such as health and safety handbook, risk assessments, and operators’ manuals, that can be accessed 24/7 in the field. We used this all recently for a new employee’s induction, focussing it around the ALBC requirements and how the business was implementing them. This induction set the tone for this new member of staff, showing how we work, covering everything from the legal aspects to the practical working in the field perspective.
Now we are accredited to the ALBC standard, I like to think we are ahead of the curve as it sets out how we operate as professional contractors, how we can demonstrate our high level of service to existing customers, and also to help attract new customers.
Would you recommend ALBC to other contractors?
Quite simply, yes. It does take work, it does take time, it does incur a little bit of cost, but it will deliver great benefits. I went into it primarily to demonstrate our level of service to customers, but quickly realised the other benefits, such as peace of mind now we have all the legal requirements comprehensively ticked off.
It can be daunting for a smaller business to get its H&S correctly in place, and almost off putting, but I can now sleep at night knowing the business is acting correctly on all aspects. We wouldn’t achieve ALBC accreditation if our health and safety policy wasn’t right.
Now that we have met the ALBC standard, we will get the message out to our customers about what this means for them, and we will use it to attract more customers.