Scottish Arable Farm of the Year 2021 finalists revealed

The award, which will be presented at AgriScot on 9 February 2022, is supported by the Agriculture and Development Board (AHDB), and sponsored by SoilEssentials. It recognises farmers who focus on soil health and make best use of innovation and technology. This year’s shortlist consists of two farmers from Aberdeenshire and one from Midlothian.

Jim Reid runs his family farm, Milton of Mathers at St Cyrus near Montrose, with his brother Ron. The farm spans 80 hectares of seed potatoes, with the rest of the arable land dedicated to barley and oilseed rape. Jim has been farming all his life and is constantly looking for new ways to trial different agricultural methods to address the key challenges he is faced with. His goal is to improve the way he farms and improve the health and quality of his crops. He is currently the host of AHDB’s Strategic Potato Farm in Scotland focusing on desiccation, crop and soil health trials.

Iain Wilson is the farm manager at Tulloch Farms near Laurencekirk. He manages around 2,000 acres of land, the majority of which is used for arable cropping. His two main priorities are the health and safety of his staff, and the health and wellbeing of his soil. In a bid to improve yields, Iain embarked on a trial project in 2018 which saw 450 blackface ewe lambs graze on 25 acres of oats, 25 acres of wheat and 37 acres of oilseed rape. The trial proved so successful that it is now in its fourth year of grazing cereals and aims to graze around 400 acres of winter cereals this season, along with 250 acres of over winter cover crops ahead of veg and spring cereals.

Bill Gray has managed the farm at Preston Hall in Midlothian since 1996. The farm successfully balances the competing demands of crop production and financial stability whilst protecting the environment and enhancing wildlife. With a highly capable team, modern machinery and a forward-thinking approach, Preston Hall strives to be at the forefront of modern farming practices. In 2017 the farm took up the challenge of being one of Scotland’s nine Monitor Farms and was involved in the project until 2019. With soil health at its core, they have piloted introducing livestock back into the arable rotation.

The leading Scottish arable farm of the year will be revealed at AgriScot on 9 February and will be rewarded with a bespoke precision farming package from SoilEssentials. The package will be tailor-made for the business following a site visit to the farm to assess the technology being used and the business requirements.

This year the candidates are being assessed by the 2019 title holder, John Weir from Lacesston farm in Fife, and AgriScot Director and arable award convenor, John Kinnaird. together with AHDB as facilitators of the award.

John Kinnaird said: “Once again we have three exceptional finalists who are all innovative in different ways. Forward-thinking, open minded farmers such as our finalists are what the arable sector in Scotland needs now to face the undoubted challenges ahead.”

John Weir commented: “Having been the recipient of the award in 2019 it was challenging being the one to do the assessing.  I was very impressed with the entrants and their willingness to embrace new ideas and adopt innovative approaches to further their knowledge of how to deal with the challenges they each face on farm. They are all sharing their knowledge with their peers by working with co-ops and on farm visits. Very Commendable.”

Jim Wilson, Managing Director of SoilEssentials comments: “The three finalists are very diverse, dynamic, and devoted to their farming businesses and it will not be an easy task for the assessors to whittle down to the ultimate award recipient. As the sponsors of the Scottish Arable Farm of the Year award, SoilEssentials thank all the nominated farmers for entering and congratulates the three shortlisted farms on reaching the final stages. We are very keen to be getting back to AgriScot in February and will be delighted to meet these advocates of agriculture and find out more about them all. Good Luck!”

AHDB’s Director of Cereals, Martin Grantley-Smith said: “Awards such as the AgriScot Scottish Arable Farm of the Year highlight best practice and encourage businesses to future-proof themselves, supporting the drive towards a more resilient arable sector. We are delighted to be supporting the award again and look forward to recognising the recipient in February.”

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