A day for region’s arable farmers to look ahead

FUTURE FARMING AWARD 2013. Robert and Jacqueline Neill of Upper Nisbet farm, Jedburgh
FUTURE FARMING AWARD 2013. Robert and Jacqueline Neill of Upper Nisbet farm, Jedburgh
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Arable farmers are being urged to look forward after two difficult years plagued by bad weather and poor performance.

SAC Consulting is holding a free on-farm information day at Dykegatehead, Whitsome, near Duns, next Wednesday afternoon (July 10) where experts will consider the resuscitation and care of soils, the most suitable crop varieties to sow this autumn, cultivation systems and the use of precision farming.

Host, ‘min-til’ pioneer William Grimsdale, will also talk about how he farms.

Farmers are asked to bring problem samples to a crop clinic at noon when SRUC crop protection leader Dr Fiona Burnett and her colleagues will advise on ways to tackle them.

At 1pm Mr Grimsdale will talk about how he moved to minimum tillage and uses precision farming techniques to improve efficiency and reduce costs. There will also be special presentations on cultivation systems and SRUC soil experts will look at soil biology and structure, and advise on how to improve both. There will also be updates on cereal varieties for autumn sowing, control of problem grass weeds, pests and late head disease and precision farming.

St Boswells-based SAC Consultant Donald Dunbar said: “There will be practical advice about some of the real problems facing farmers and an opportunity to think ahead and consider an arable strategy for the future.”

Anyone interested should contact him at donald.dunbar@sac.co.uk or on 01835 823322.

Meanwhile, Jedburgh farmers Robert and Jaq Neill, of Upper Nisbet, have added to their extensive tally of trophies by winning the Future Farming Award last month. The prize of £4,000 and support promoting their work is for commercially-viable innovative producers who minimise their ecological footprint.

This year’s inaugural Scotch Beef Farm of the Year winners, the Neills farm 1,080 acres, running a suckler herd of 300 Limousin cross cows with 10 pedigree Limousin cows and eight pedigree Limousin bulls, and growing 650 acres of cereals.

Robert said: “We pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency in livestock feed and our early adoption of electronic identification as a way of allowing us to closely monitor and assess the performance of all our cattle, from conception until they are sold as prime stock.”

A Royal Highland Education Trust director, Robert won a Nuffield Scholarship earlier this year and will study cattle electronic identification (EID) in Canada, Australia and South America in the next 18 months.

He said: “I hope we can be instrumental in leading the way in terms of using electronic traceability and controlling the health and production of our cattle herd to enable the business to expand its operation for future generations.”