Despite the tumultuous year we have all experienced, we seem to be pretty much up to date with farm work.
Often we are on the back foot with harvest depending on what the weather throws at us, but that’s one of the addictive things about farming – it’s often a gamble.
This month we have been scanning the cows and weaning off the eldest calves. We have been using QuietWean paddles in the calves’ noses which has revolutionised the weaning process on our farm and has allowed all those in ear shot of the sheds to sleep without a chorus of bellowing mothers at night.
Pandemics and politics may have dominated headlines this year but don’t be fooled as one of the greatest challenges to Scottish agriculture is still looming.
The climate change and biodiversity crises will be the biggest influences on how we farm in the future, as we respond to the challenge of reaching net zero emissions across the country and halting biodiversity loss.
Scottish agriculture has a key role to play in helping the country achieve ambitious emission reduction targets.
Before Covid-19 filled the news, many felt that farming was being blamed for many of the world’s climate problems, and to some extent we still face challenges with the way figures are counted to paint farmers as reckless greenhouse gas emitters.
However, I hope that we can respond to these claims by taking up the climate change challenge and becoming a more resilient, efficient and climate-friendly industry. Agriculture is on the public’s radar and we have a platform to reply to the accusations thrown at us.
NFU Scotland (NFUS) has commissioned reports to present the facts that can combat many of the unfair claims against us.
The public wants high quality food but they also want it to be produced in an environmentally friendly manner that benefits our soils, water and wildlife. Delivering on this presents huge opportunities for the sector.
Emissions from livestock have been criticised by many groups (many of whom have links to fake meat investors) but their overly simplified accusations of gas pumping out of cows don’t tell the amazing story of the carbon cycle, or how methane breaks down into carbon which is absorbed by plants to lay down roots.
Even our humble grasslands have a fantastic ability to lock up carbon in our soils.
We will have to make changes to make sure we are part of the solution to tackling climate change, but with the right support our industry is well placed to build upon the trust that most of the British public has in us to produce fantastic food.
With this in mind the four UK Next Generation Groups are hosting a webinar on November 25, focusing on how farming can benefit from the green economic recovery from Covid-19 and exploring how green finance can help the next generation of farmers and crofters increase efficiency and connect with consumer demands when buyers are sourcing products.
To join us in the webinar go to the NFUS Next Generation Facebook group to find the link details and to keep up to date with the activities of Next Generation committee.
- Pete Moss farms at Holm in Orkney. He is NFUS Next Generation committee chairman and chairman of Orkney district SAYFC.