Robert has climate change down to a tea

NEW environment minister Paul Wheelhouse this week visited a climate change focus farm near Jedburgh.

The Berwickshire-based MSP heard from farmers Robert and Jac Neill at Upper Nisbet about how they are reducing their farm’s impact on climate change and improving efficiency.

The mixed beef and arable unit is one of four farms in Scotland involved in the Scottish Government’s “Farming For A Better Climate” initiative, run by SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College.

The Neills told the minister how they had measured their carbon footprint, carried out energy use and scope for wind power audits, and used “precision-farming” techniques. This means that after analysing soil fertility and using satellite mapping and a tractor-mounted GPS, they can target fertiliser use better, reducing waste, cutting costs and avoiding pollution.

Mr Neill said: “With a poor summer and bad harvest costs crippling farmers at the moment, anything we can do to improve farm efficiency and reduce costs is welcome.”

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Improving farm efficiency and, in turn, the bottom line is at the heart of the “Farming For A Better Climate” initiative.

“The farm demonstrates impressively that measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can reduce farm costs. Efficient fertiliser management not only helps the climate, but also improves water quality. And returning manures and straw from the cattle to the land helps soils fertility and locks carbon in.

“These are really good examples of win-win measures for farmers.”