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Scottish farmers work to improve soil health

The soil project involves five growers on the east of Scotland using ‘very different and interesting methods’.
The soil project involves five growers on the east of Scotland using ‘very different and interesting methods’.

A group of Scottish farmers are working together to improve soil health, and the sustainability and profitability of their businesses.

The Soil Regenerative Group – a Farming for a Better Climate project facilitated by SAC Consulting – involves five growers on the east of Scotland.

The group is exploring which management techniques, treatments, crops and rotations best establish resilient farm soils and how to integrate these into a profitable farm business.

Ideas explored include growing linseed, broadcasting seed on the day of harvest, grazing sheep on oilseed rape and direct drilling – all examples of regenerative, or conservation, farming.

Zach Reilly from SAC Consulting, who is leading the project, said it was a great example of peer-to-peer learning.

“The open conversations and diverse activity and experiences of these five farmers is the heart of its success,” said Mr Reilly.

“They are all trying very different and interesting methods and, although across a mix of farming enterprises, there is overlap and the real value is that they are all learning from each other.”

One of the farmers in the project is Douglas Ruxton from Moss-side of Esslie Farm, near Fettercairn.

He said: “Many of the processes we are looking at were the norm in the past, but in an industrial era we have become reliant on heavy machinery and chemical inputs.

“It’s becoming clear that these have their downfalls and if the next generation is going to profit from the soil as well, we need to rebuild it.

“Soil is our greatest asset and we need to get the basics right before we go high tech.

“This group is great for sharing ideas, problems and solutions with other like-minded farmers.”

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