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