Farm opening up to new climate ideas

Farmers Robert and Jac Neill, Upper Nisbet, Jedburgh
Farmers Robert and Jac Neill, Upper Nisbet, Jedburgh

FARMERS Robert and Jac Neill of Upper Nisbet Farm near Jedburgh are opening their gates to visitors today for their first meeting as part of the Farming for a Better Climate (FFBC) initiative.

Funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), FFBC is looking at practical ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for farms.

The Neills joined the project as its arable focus farm and will host on-farm meetings to find and pilot practical and affordable techniques that work.

The information day will be opened by NFU president and Stow livestock farmer Nigel Miller. At the event, SAC experts will talk about energy use, renewables, fertiliser and manures, crop rotations and agronomy, supply chain requirements and financial efficiency. Discussion groups will meet over the coming months.

Mrs Neill said: “It’s a good opportunity to see where we are and what opportunities there are and where we can go. Robert is really keen to be aware of what’s happening and to try new things, and he is always up for people coming and having a look.”

The couple are keen to hear up-to-date experts’ views and see what new technology could work and are welcoming the professionals involved looking at different parts of their business.

“It’s a good opportunity to prepare ourselves for what is probably coming in terms of legislation in the next few years. If there are savings to be made, we will look at different ways of running the business,” Mrs Neill said.

SAC facilitator for Upper Nisbet, Moira Gallagher, said: “Robert and Jac are taking steps to improve business efficiency and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from routine practices. They are also considering how renewable energy sources can benefit their business. We are looking forward to supporting the Neills as they connect with the local rural community to generate further ideas.”

SAC’s climate change manager Rebecca Audsley said: “What we want to do is put forward really practical workable suggestions for farmers to take home. It is looking at and improving efficiencies and suggesting things that could be good for farm businesses, but are also good for climate change.

“The Neills have looked at different measures around the farm. This is the start for the arable side, they are already up to speed and very efficient with their livestock management.

The tenanted Upper Nisbet is a mixed beef and arable farm of 433 hectares plus 76ha of seasonal land. The Neills grow 60ha of winter wheat, 60ha of winter barley, 110ha of spring barley, 13ha of field beans and 12ha potatoes (on contract). Cereals are sold for seed, malting and feed and the progency of their 300 Limousin cross cows are finished on the farm. Mr Neill is a former Farmers Weekly Livestock Farmer of the Year winner (2006).

The free open day including lunch starts at 11am and anyone wanting to attend should ring 01835 823322.