Workshop covers markets as well as soil resilience

Harvesting near Morebattle, Kelso, last year

Harvesting near Morebattle, Kelso, last year

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Borders growers are invited to workshop on soils and creating resilience in arable land at Lauder on Tuesday (January 14).

The day-long event for farmers has been organised by arable specialists HGCA and SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, at The Lodge, Carfraemill and starts at 9.30am.

Organisers say the importance of good soil health and structure will be the key discussion point in the first of a series of three such events in Scotland, but there will also be advice and analysis on markets, varieties, disease and production.

The sessions on soil structure, biology and resilience take place in the afternoon programme of the events.

Scotland’s Rural College’s senior soil scientist, Dr Bruce Ball says the impact of the damage done to soil during the difficult 2012 season is still being understood.

He said: “Weather and disease both play their part in production and yield.

“What is less easy to evaluate and so often gets missed by growers is the effect of poor soil structure and biology on the final results.”

Dr Ball will be joined in the soil session by colleague Professor Bryan Griffiths and Dr Blair McKenzie of the James Hutton Institute.

And they will consider the necessity of understanding soil conditions, the importance of soil biology and how management practices affect soil resilience.

For those attending the event the morning programme addresses immediate market concerns such as prices and quality issues.

In his presentation on variety choices, SRUC’s leader of the crop science team, Dr Steve Hoad, will explain how SRUC recommendations take in the ability of varieties to cope with the potential challenges thrown up by the more volatile growing conditions Scotland is experiencing.

During the pre-lunch session on disease management, SRUC’s applied practice team leader, Dr Andy Evans will consider how to control pests following the ban on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments.

SRUC crop protection leader, Dr Fiona Burnett will consider the management of disease risk over contrasting seasons.

The programme for Tuesday morning also sees SRUC’s senior rural business consultant, Julian Bell talk about the market position. HGCA’s senior research and KT manager Simon Oxley cover crop quality issues and SRUC’s plant pathologist, Neil Havis, will look at the biology and control of the key Scottish pathogens, Ramularia on barley and light leaf spot in rape.

And HGCA’s senior research manager, Vicky Foster will speak on ‘Shaping the direction of arable research (2015-2018)’ in the afternoon.

The event at Carfraemill will all be chaired by HGCA’s regional manager for Scotland, Gavin Dick.

The other two Scottish events will be at Perth Racecourse on Wednesday January 15 and at Thainstone, Inverurie on Wednesday January 22.

For more information contact Fiona.Burnett@sruc.ac.uk (0131 535 4133) or Steve.Hoad@sruc.ac.uk (0131 535 4342) and otherwise register at www.hgca.com/events.