Monday, 20 May 2019
Three industry organisations have joined forces to launch a brand new field-based arable event for Scotland.
Arable Scotland organisers on site (l-r): Chris Leslie (AHDB), David Young (James Hutton Institute), Keith Brand (Hutchinsons), Adrian Newton and Pam Cassidy (James Hutton Institute)
The event aims to bring together the key players in food production from farmers to distillers and exporters to demonstrate and discuss key industry issues such innovative and sustainable farming. While all Scottish arable crops will feature, this year’s event will focus particularly on spring barley for its markets. Future Arable Scotland events will major on other crops and alternative markets and will track new innovations over several years.
On average over 250,000 hectares of Scotland’s arable land is devoted to the production of spring barley, much of which will be used as a base for malt whisky, while a significant chunk will be used as animal feed. Growing spring barley for whisky isn’t always easy, but it does pay off, with farmers paid a premium for a high-quality crop.
Although barley is a mainstay in Scottish arable rotations, it needs to be profitable and sustainable, something very much a focus of the event.
Visitors to Arable Scotland will be taken on a whistle-stop tour of a core set of innovation-focused field plots, as well as having the chance to visit a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibitors, field-based demonstrations and trials and tours of the Centre for Sustainable Cropping Platform.
Professor Adrian Newton, senior cereal pathologist at the James Hutton Institute, said:
“We wanted to create a really exciting new event which will pull together the entire arable industry allowing them to learn from one another.
“Collaboration really will become even more vital in the future, for organisations like ourselves, but also for farmers, processors, researchers; the entire supply chain. We need to ensure that we are growing the right varieties for the right markets, that we are protected from the most damaging diseases, and that we are producing high-quality, efficient, resilient crops while minimising our environmental impact.
“Events like Arable Scotland give us the chance to get the entire industry together, to discuss what we need to do to thrive, and to really make a difference to the Scottish arable sector.”
The event will host a number of ‘Arable Conversations’ focusing on new entrants, sustainable agriculture, future crop production and grain markets. These sessions will see industry experts introducing the issues involved before inviting the audience to participate in an open discussion.
Claire Hodge, senior knowledge exchange manager, AHDB, said:
“With the Arable Conversations we were keen to avoid simply informing people about a subject we felt was important. Instead we want to encourage them to share their experiences so we can jointly guide industry forward. That’s what these sessions are all about.
“However, we know not everyone is comfortable speaking out at these types of open sessions so they will also be able to text questions or comments which can then be shared with the group.”
This year’s demonstration plots are focused on four key areas or ‘zones’ in the field – innovative breeding, quality crops for defined markets, innovative crop management and sustainable farming systems. As well as featuring on regular tours throughout the day, visitors will also be able to speak directly to the companies and researchers who have set up the demos.
Professor Fiona Burnett, plant pathologist at SRUC, said:
“This year’s event will feature an incredible range of crops and management techniques including intercropping, crop protection, innovative varieties, technological solutions and novel crops. We hope that they showcase to growers potential new avenues they could explore which will help make them more productive, profitable and sustainable in future.”
The event is also supported by the Farm Advisory Service, SEFARI, the Scottish Society for Crop Research, H L Hutchinsons and the Scottish Farmer. It is part of AHDB’s Arable Connections series which is supporting a number of events across the UK this summer, for more information please visit ahdb.org.uk/arableconnections2019.
To register to attend Arable Scotland on 2 July please use the booking link.