28 May

Soil Association Scotland upcoming events

Soil, Slugs and Metal: Optimising the Relationship, South Redbog Farm, Strichen, Fraserburgh, Thursday 7th June, 10.30am-3pm. Hosted by the Chapman family, we will explore the relationship between cultivations and soil performance and look at how we can optimise performance of our ‘metal’ to get the most out of our soil. Call Sarah on 07800 841 822 or email for more information. Funding is provided through SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union) with partner funding from Scottish Water and RSPB Scotland. (This event is part of a wider KTIF programme, Farming With Nature.)

 

 

Woodland: Making it Work for You, Exploring forestry opportunities on farm, Kilrie Farm, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Thursday 14th June 12.30pm – 4.30pm

Run in partnership with Central Scotland Green Network Trust

A practical on-farm afternoon event looking at the benefits of woodland creation, managing established woodlands and funding and finance. Includes a tour of new and established woodland sites and a woodland management machinery demonstration.

Hosted by John Drysdale, Kilrie Farm, who will be speaking. Other speakers are from Forestry Commission Scotland, Central Scotland Green Network Trust, SAC Consulting and Clydesdale Bank. Come along to hear and discuss what trees can do for your business. Free to farmers, foresters and land managers. Lunch will be provided. Book online, call Jane on 0131 666 2474, or email. Funding for this activity is made available through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union), with partner funding from Quality Meat Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Innovative Farmers and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

 

 

Field Lab: All Over Clover Tuesday 12th June, 12.30-3pm, Mossgiel Farm, Ayrshire
Exploring grass seed mixes and grazing systems for dairy. At the first Field Lab meeting in February we discussed the challenges of establishing herbal leys without carrying out a full reseed, and came up with some options. Farmer Bryce Cunningham has developed a Field Lab plan – come and hear more. There will also be a visit to one of his fields. Book online. Funding for this activity is made available through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union), with partner funding from Quality Meat Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Innovative Farmers and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation

 

Mob grazing gives you more. A practical introduction for livestock & arable farmers, Tuesday 26th June, The Bothy, Comielaw Farm, Pittenweem, Fife, 10am-3.30pm

What is it? Why would you do it? How do you do it? Assessing practical benefits and performance on the ground.  Come along to hear and discuss what mob grazing could do for your business. Includes visit to Balcaskie Estate. Speakers: Tom Chapman, Farmer and mob grazing specialist and Sam Parsons, Estate Manager. Free to farmers and land managers. Lunch will be provided. Book online, call Lyn on 07899 791 748, or email. Funding for this activity is made available through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union), with partner funding from Quality Meat Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Innovative Farmers and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

 

Future Farming Conference: Common problems, new solutions, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Dundee, Thursday 12th July 10am-4pm

Farming is full of challenges and opportunities. Some are age old, such as how to optimise productivity and get maximum profit from your land and livestock. Others seem to be getting worse, like the weather and its knock-on effects. Join us for a practical day hearing and discussing how farmers are making changes to their business to meet these challenges, including: Graeme Bethune, Ballachly Farm, Caithness, on rush control; Rory Christie, Dourie Farming, Newton Stewart, on harnessing dairy genetics; Jim Simmons, Ruthven Farm, Glenlivet on woodland creation and Duncan McEwan, Arnprior Farm, Stirling, on grassland management. In the afternoon you can visit one of our kind hosts, the Kearneys of Lundie Farming, to see their extensive grass-based, block calving dairy farm, accompanied by James Bretherton of Agscope. Or come to James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm, to discover the latest developments in research including field margins, green manures and crop trials. Free to farmers, crofters, foresters and land managers. Lunch will be provided. Book online, call Jane on 0131 666 2474, or email. Funding for this activity is made available through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union), with partner funding from Quality Meat Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Innovative Farmers and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

 

Save the date

Woodland: Making it Work for You: Creation, management and funding, Saturday 21st July, 12.30pm – 4.15pm at Achaphubuil, Fort William

A practical walk and talk afternoon event exploring the benefits of woodland creation, management and funding opportunities. For more information contact Lyn on 07899 791 748 or email. Funding for this activity is made available through the SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union), with partner funding from Quality Meat Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Innovative Farmers and The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation.

 

Pollinator Demo Farm, Monday 23rd July: Inverurie, Aberdeenshire.

Call Sarah on 07800 841 822 or email for more information. Funding is provided through SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union) with partner funding from Scottish Water and RSPB Scotland.

Buzzing about Grassland, Thursday 26th July, Greenock, Inverkip Community Hub
Species rich grassland meadows are an important part of our farming landscape; providing habitats for birds, pollinators, and areas of nutritionally low fodder to manage sheep condition on. How can we better utilise these areas within our farming systems and what revenue is available for managing these areas through AECS? How can we profit from these native pastures? Speakers include: Rob Havard (farmer, and Natural England). This event is open to all, and free to attend, however places are strictly limited and will be given on a first come first served basis. Lunch is also included. The event will include a trip to Ardgowan Estate. If you’re a farmer, crofter or land manager, book your free place now: it’s open to all but we’re expecting this session to fill up quickly, and booking is absolutely essential. Click on the Register button, or if you prefer you can call Sarah on 07800 841 822, or email smillar@soilassociation.org. Funding is provided through SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union) with partner funding from Scottish Water and RSPB Scotland. (This event is part of a wider KTIF programme, Farming With Nature.)

 

 

Buzzing About Grassland: Profiting from Native Pasture Friday27th July, Grant Arms Hotel Grantown-on-Spey

Species rich grassland meadows are an important part of our farming landscape; providing habitats for birds, pollinators, and areas of nutritionally low fodder to manage sheep condition on. How can we better utilise these areas within our farming systems and what revenue is available for managing these areas through AECS? How can we profit from these native pastures? Speakers include: Rob Havard (farmer, and Natural England). This event is open to all, and free to attend, however places are strictly limited and will be given on a first come first served basis. We will start at the Grant Arms hotel, 25 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey PH26 3HF. Lunch is also included. The event will include a visit to Lynbreck Croft. If you’re a farmer, crofter or land manager, book your free place now: it’s open to all but we’re expecting this session to fill up quickly, and booking is absolutely essential. Click on the Register button, or if you prefer you can call Sarah on 07800 841 822, or email smillar@soilassociation.org. Funding is provided through SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union) with partner funding from Scottish Water and RSPB Scotland. (This event is part of a wider KTIF programme, Farming With Nature.)

Save the date

Worming Your Way to Profit, Tuesday 7th August, Forgandenny, Perthshire.

Call Sarah on 07800 841 822 or email for more information. Funding is provided through SRDP Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union) with partner funding from Scottish

 

18 May

Consultation on reform of limited partnerships law

The UK Government is consulting on the reform of the law governing limited partnerships. If you wish to comment, follow the link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/limited-partnerships-reform-of-limited-partnership-law

Lisa Davis Head of Regional Delivery and Registrar of Scotland of Companies House, along with some of her team will be going to the Royal Highland Show on Thursday and Friday. They will have some time in the Scottish Government Pavilion. To discuss any issues please email her at    ldavis@companieshouse.gov.uk

21 Mar

“Remove the income bar on Small Farm Grant Scheme” says Smallholding Scotland

The Board of Smallholding Scotland has written to Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, to ask him to remove the income bar on the Small Farm Grant Scheme for the remaining life of the scheme and allow Scottish small-scale farmers and producers fairer access to support to invest in their holdings, no matter where in Scotland they farm.

The Chair of Smallholding Scotland, Rosemary Champion said, “The Small Farm Grant Scheme was a welcome addition to the current iteration of CAP, but the imposition of an income bar has prevented many smallholders from accessing the funding to improve their holdings. With only a limited time period remaining, we’re asking Mr. Ewing to remove it, making the resources more accessible and bringing the scheme into line with other CAP schemes”.

No other CAP scheme, including the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS) on which the SFGS is based, has an income bar for applicants.

The SFGS was introduced in 2015 but uptake has been poor. In the 22 month of operation from 1st January 2015 to the end of October 2016, less than 2% of the available budget had been allocated, although uptake in the subsequent period is believed to have improved slightly.

Rosemary said, “Many smallholders are already excluded from agricultural support because of the 3ha minimum area; further exclusion on the grounds of income limits their capacity to invest in small farm businesses. Many smallholders must have off-farm employment to pay the bills – just like crofters – so the same rules should apply. The Scottish Government has said that it supports small scale farming – so we’re confident that it will step up to the mark and do the right thing.”

Smallholding Scotland is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation established in 2017 to support and represent Scottish smallholders. More information can be found on the organisation’s website smallholding.scot.

06 Mar

A ‘ridiculous’ skin cancer campaign for gardeners

Celebrity gardeners are getting behind a national campaign launching in May which is using humour to help fight melanoma.  David Domoney, Adam Frost and David Stevens will all appear dressed up looking ‘ridiculous’ in a campaign urging us all to think twice about our sun protection habits.

Watch Your Back!, launched in 2016 by the Melanoma Fund, specifically  targets men over 50 who are the least likely to cover up, but are most likely to die from the effects of excessive sun exposure.  The message is ‘don’t be ridiculous, remember sun protection when out in the garden this summer’.

 

Men and melanoma

Skin cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK and melanoma is the most dangerous type.  It is the fastest growing cancer in men and the second fastest in women, with men 70% more likely to develop the disease, typically on their backs and in areas that are hard to spot, making the warning signs easier to miss, leading to a later diagnosis, leading to higher death rates.

 

Why raise awareness?
Melanoma rates in the UK have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years, however many of us still forget to protect, check skin for signs of change or know what to look out for. This may explain why death rates from melanoma are higher in the UK than in Australia or New Zealand, both of which have the highest incidence in the world.

Harry Townsend, founder of the Melanoma Fund says; “Sun protection campaigns can sound like broken records. We all know the facts, but many of us still lack a regular skin care habit and men in particular dislike applying sunscreen, so we have decided to give it to them straight; don’t be ridiculous!

 

Skin health clinic bus tour

The Melanoma Fund is organising a bus tour of major garden centres in the South East during May and June. Surgeons from the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead and dermatologists from RTWSkin in Tunbridge Wells will offer FREE pre-booked appointments for skin checking and skin health analysis.

 

The ridiculous sunflower growing competition

Major garden centres will be urging customers to grow the tallest or biggest sunflower in the UK.  They will be retailing packs of the  ‘ridiculous’ seeds for a £1 donation to the charity.  Prizes include Landmann BBQ’s and a year’s supply of Altruist sunscreen.

 

Campaign ambassadors; Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock, Andy Sturgeon, Charlie Dimmock, Joe Swift, Adam Frost, David Domoney, Anne Swithinbank and Toby Buckland have all agreed to provide their personal tips on growing giant blooms.

Alan Titchmarsh says; “This approach may appear light-hearted, but the message is serious. Sunburn can not only triple the risk of melanoma, it looks terrible, so look after your skin, whatever your age.”

Watch Your Back! is partnered with the Garden Centre Association, the Professional Gardeners Guild and The National Allotment Society.  For further details visit www.watchyourback.co.uk.

 

06 Mar

First year of co-composting FYM finds leaf phosphate concentration up to 20% higher

An Innovative Farmers field lab has found higher phosphate concentration in plants from wheat and rye grass crops that were treated with co-composted rock phosphate and farmyard manure, compared to crops where they were applied separately.

The Soil and Root Innovators, a group of farmers in the South West, have been exploring how co-composting GAFSA (reactive rock phosphate) with FYM may improve soil biology, yield and phosphate availability for cereal crops since autumn 2016, with these first annual results encouraging them to continue their research into 2018 and 2019 harvests.

From samples of rye grass, leaf phosphate concentration treated with co-composted rock phosphate and FYM was found to be around 20% higher (mg P g-1 Dry weight) than plots treated separately. The effect was most observed where co-composting process had been at least four months. Timing of GAFSA application may also have an effect. There were also positive indications of greater biomass and flag leaf P concentrations in wheat plots on two of the three trial sites (where they had co-composted longer): although the results were not statistically significant, the group think it is worth repeating the experiment. They hope to expand the number of sites and see if this effect can be observed again.

The study is a great example of farmers leading the way in research and development. It is being funded by its members, and co-ordinated by one of the participants, Adrian Hares.

Adrian farms 130 acres of mixed beef and combinable cereals in Wiltshire, and as an independent soils adviser was keen to understand the potential effects on soil health. He said: “We’re really pleased with the results and we’re confident that we can repeat and improve in the next year of research. One of the best things about doing research in this way – when it’s practical, in-field and replicated across several farms – is that we have a genuine representation of the influence co-composting has, both on our own land and on a wider scale. Doing this kind of research individually gives you a single outcome, but working together we have multiple representations on different soil types and crop varieties, which means the results can be useful to a wider network of people.”

The group are collaborating with Dr John Hammond from the University of Reading, who said: “The results suggest that co-composting can have an influence on phosphate availability to the crop, especially on these alkaline soils. Co-composting for a minimum of four months and applying ‘little and often’ appears to have the best results, so we can use this to inform our trials going forward. We’re also hoping to use larger trial plots to get an even more conclusive set of results next time around. This has been an interesting and valuable process so far, so I’m very pleased we are able to carry on with these trials and refine our research.”

You can follow the trial progress at www.innovativefarmers.org

Adrian Hares will be speaking at the Innovative Farmers Network Day on Wednesday 9 May 2018. Open to members and non-members, this Innovative Farmers event will discuss past, present and future field labs and look at what the future of farmer-led research could look like. What are the biggest challenges facing farming, and how can ground-level research and development help tackle them? The event will take place at Sheepdrove Farm, Berkshire. Find out more, see the full event schedule, and book your place at www.innovativefarmers.org/events

 

09 Feb

Hedgehogs on the Edge: new report shows hedgehogs plummet by half in British countryside

 

At least half the population of our native hedgehogs has been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today, Wednesday 7 February 2018.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.  This new report shows that hedgehogs in rural areas are in severe decline, with their numbers plummeting by half since the Millennium.

“There are many reasons hedgehogs are in trouble,” explains Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street, a public action campaign run by PTES and BHPS. “The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

However, with approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, BHPS and PTES are planning to engage with the farming community to help protect this iconic creature.

“Farmers play a vital role in producing food, but they’re also well placed to help protect, maintain and enhance our countryside,” continues Wilson. “The Government recently reiterated plans to reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy to reward landowners for delivering environmental benefits. Many farmers already have a sustainable approach to agriculture, and we think there’s a great opportunity to work more widely with them to stem the alarming decline of our country hedgehogs.”

Whilst The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs report highlights a worrying decline in our countryside, it shows a more positive outlook for hedgehogs in our towns and cities: although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline is slowing. Hedgehogs are not disappearing from urban green spaces as rapidly as they were fifteen years ago, and might even be returning. Where they are found, numbers too, appear to be growing in some places.

It is exciting to think that the combined efforts of thousands of volunteers who have joined Hedgehog Street and pledged to make their gardens more hedgehog-friendly, may be making a difference. PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.

Wilson concludes: “Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions.  Hedgehogs are a generalist species, so the more people can do to help them in their own back garden, the more they will also benefit other wildlife.”

How to help hedgehogs

 

Visit www.hedgehogstreet.org and:

·         Become a Hedgehog Champion and find simple advice on making your garden and neighbourhood more hedgehog-friendly

·         Pledge to make a small hole – no bigger than a CD case – in your garden fence, wall and other barriers so that hedgehogs can access different gardens in their search for food, shelter and mates

·         Log your ‘hog sightings – dead or alive – on The BIG Hedgehog Map

 

22 Jan

Smallholding Scotland Conference 2018

The first Smallholding Scotland conference will take place on Friday 16th February at Pitcairngreen Village Hall. Details of the full programme and how to buy tickets are on the conference website.

Tickets are only available on-line and only until Wednesday 14th February; £20 for members of Smallholding Scotland and £25 for non-members. There’s a special offer of a year’s membership of Smallholding Scotland (to 31st March 2019) and a conference ticket for £40.

22 Jan

Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) develops new online guide for humane killing during disease control

As part of its strategy to promote the highest standards of welfare worldwide for food animals, the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) has produced a new online guide which covers the humane killing of livestock during disease control operations.

The guide has had input from industry experts to ensure that all of the information is relevant.  Primarily aimed at the veterinary profession, slaughter personnel, farm staff, livestock handlers and government agencies, the guidance – with illustrations – is intended for the global industry.  It covers a variety of species from neonates to adults, the various methods of humane killing of livestock, protocols, types of equipment available and gives examples of best practice and information on risk assessment for both the operator and animal welfare.

Charles Mason, Technical Director of the HSA said: “This guide pulls together a wealth of information and materials into one resource and has been made readily available to enable easy access worldwide to this information for high animal welfare standards that may otherwise be difficult to obtain.

The guide joins others already available on the charity’s website, providing a portfolio of best practice in humane handling and slaughter and can be found at www.hsa.org.uk/diseasecontrol.  HSA staff are currently working on plans to develop interactive multi-media options for the HSA online guides – the aim being to enhance the users’ experience by allowing them to test their knowledge and take part in simulated situations in which their actions may directly affect the outcome, so making the training more realistic.