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Perthshire farm selected for national potato project

Kerr Howatson
Kerr Howatson

Meigle-based Bruce Farms, one of Scotland’s biggest and most progressive potato growers, has been selected as the host for a new national project which is expected to benefit the whole potato industry.

The company, which grows more than 270ha (670acres) of potatoes every year, was this week announced as the AHDB’s Strategic Potato Farm (SPot) in Scotland. SPot is a practical, farmer-driven project which aims to give other growers the opportunity to examine and discuss new techniques and research.

The Meigle project will run for three growing seasons (2017-2019), with a series of open-days, farm-walks and tailored group visits. Scottish growers will be invited to help shape the development ideas and techniques every year. The project launches with an open day on July 12 when the Perthshire farm will host a 24Ha (60-acre) field of Maris Piper.

The farms’ potato manager, Kerr Howatson, said the company aimed to be forward thinking and to produce the best commercial potato crops on both their own and rented ground across Perthshire and the Borders.

“I look forward to hosting the SPot meetings here at Bruce Farms. It will be an extremely interesting opportunity to apply science to our commercial decision making process, challenge conventional working practices and bridge the gap between proven research and farm practice,” he said.

“I am sure that the project will be of benefit to us as hosts and also to our potato farming colleagues across Scotland.”

AHDB’s knowledge transfer manager in Edinburgh, Claire Hodge, said the initial focus at Bruce Farms would be a comparison of different primary and secondary cultivation techniques – bed tilling and stone separating – across the field with the help of precision farming data.

“Bruce Farms are an exciting business to work with because of their commitment to improving systems and processes and their drive for quality, yield and optimum returns from their potato enterprise,” she said.

Bruce Farms also produces cereals, blackcurrants, soft fruit, peas and beans, and runs a pedigree cattle enterprise. The company joins other potato growers in Staffordshire and West Suffolk as AHDB funded UK SPot Farms.

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