Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland

David Aglen
Farm sectors:
Cereals & Oilseeds

About Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland

  • David Aglen, Farm Manager at Balbirnie Home Farms, has hosted Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland since September 2020
  • 1,200 hectare mixed farm with 800 hectares of arable crops and 200 suckler cows
  • Diverse rotation includes oats, spring barley, winter wheat, spring beans, potatoes and brassica vegetables
  • Key areas of focus include regenerative agricultural practices, plant and soil health and reduced inputs

Follow Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland with David Aglen, if you are interested in:

  • Reducing inputs on-farm – regenerative agriculture guides David’s management decisions and will continue to inform the direction of the Strategic Cereal Farm
  • Using soil and plant health metrics to direct the need for inputs
  • Monitoring and improving the recovery of land with each move through the diverse rotation, including field vegetables, potatoes and cattle.

Follow the Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland on Twitter by searching for #strategicfarm and @DavidAglen

Mission and vision

Our Strategic Cereal Farm in Scotland provides the opportunity to bring research and practical farming together, to work towards farming with both economic and environmental resilience.

Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland's collaborative approach draws on intelligence from industry to ground-truth novel management decisions. By using data to support decisions, the focus will be to determine viable options for a profitable business and help give farmers confidence in making changes.

The vision of the Strategic Cereal Farm is to be inclusive, independent, and open in testing research outputs in a diverse business setting and help give other farmers confidence in making changes in their own businesses. 

An introduction to Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland



Soil health baselining

Soil properties are being assessed on eight fields using the soil health scorecard, developed as part of the Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership. Assessments will include soil nutrient analysis, earthworm assessments, visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS), and infiltration rates. The baselining assessments will be repeated in the same positions later on in the six-year Strategic Farm project to see if management practices have had any impact on soil biology, chemistry, and physics.

Soil health baselining - more information about our harvest 2021 trials. 

Integrated Pest Management

Pests and natural enemies baselining

Assessments of key pests, their natural enemies, and pollinators will be done in spring and into the summer. Five fields will be assessed to gain an understanding of what key species are present and where they are located in fields and across the farm.

Further information about baselining pest and natural enemies for harvest 2021. 

Plant health baselining                

Plant health baselining will assess cereal crops across five fields from the soil baselining group to examine the interplay between soil health and plant health. Plant health will be baselined by measuring and tracking crop biomass, tissue testing, and disease assessments throughout the season. 

Find out more about the plant health baselining trials for harvest 2021. 

Nutrition trial

The aim of the first tramline trial is to determine whether amending crop nutrition in response to live crop monitoring will have an economic benefit on crop health, yield, and grain quality. A wheat crop will be monitored throughout the season, with regular brix meter testing. When the brix meter indicates that the plant health is low, immediate tissue testing will follow. The nutrition applied will be determined by the result of the tissue test. Plant health and yield will be compared to untreated and farm standard tramlines in the same field.

Read more information about the harvest 2021 nutrition trial.  

Contact us 

Please get in touch if you would like more information about the Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland. 

For information on the research, trials, demonstrations, and findings: 

  • David Aglen, Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland host:
  • Fiona Geary, AHDB

For information on events, resources or visiting the Strategic Cereal Farm Scotland: 



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