Central Scotland farmers have scooped the top awards in the James Hutton Institute’s (JHI) annual best soil competition.
The overall award, announced at the Highland Show, went to John Weir of Lacesston Farm near Cupar, while Douglas Greig from Tealing, near Dundee, won the young farmers prize for a record third time.
Lacesston is a 494-acre farm which predominantly grows spring barley for malting, as well as potatoes and winter varieties of wheat crops.
JHI chief executive, Professor Colin Campbell, said: “The soils submitted to the competition show that many farmers are aware of its importance and a need to invest in this natural capital.
“However, the call for more attention to be paid to soil health in our recently published Agricultural Strategies highlights we need to reach many more farmers in the future if we are to really improve our soils.”
Soil scientist Dr Jason Owen, a member of the judging panel, said: “After assessing the physical nature of the soils and considering laboratory derived data, the panel chose a soil with good structure in large part due to its organic matter content, thus making it resistant to erosion and degradation, key attributes with current pressures on soils, and ensuring adequate drainage.”
NFU Scotland president, Andrew McCornick, pointed out that when farm margins are tight, investment that protects or enhances the structure and health of soils can often be neglected.
He added: “This competition was the inspiration for our business to carry out a major programme of soil analysis on our farm last spring. These winners are a great example of what can be achieved.”