Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group
What is the Soil Regenerative Agriculture Group?
Five farmers are working together to establish how best to support, enhance and protect their farm soils. They will aim to improve production and tailor inputs, maximising profitability. Many other benefits can be gained from healthy and resilient soils, ranging from improving water retention and drainage to supporting biodiversity and helping to lock up carbon on the farm.
What will the group look at?
With support from SAC Consulting, researchers and other industry specialists, the group aims to get to the bottom of which management techniques, treatments, crops and rotations help to shape and protect a resilient farm soil.
How can you benefit?
We can all make changes, but it helps to hear about the experiences of other working farmers who have tried it out first. We want you to be involved too; there will be opportunities for you to share and discuss soil issues with the group once we have some results. The group will be posting regular updates about their findings via this webpage and through our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Setup in 2014, Arable Ventures combines the family farm Lindertis and Walker-Munro Farms. Arable Ventures operates over 1,100 ha of arable land with a range of soil types; three-quarters of which is sandy loam with the remainder sandy silt, organic or clay loams, Arable Ventures grows winter wheat, spring barley, winter barley, oats, peas, oilseed rape and grass in a long rotation. Dung is put back on to the land via a straw for dung exchange at Walker-Munro Farms and an in-house cattle enterprise at Lindertis.
Hugh farms in partnership with his father James. The business extends to around 400 ha, 50 ha of which is rented ground. Although there is some variation in soil type, most soils at Backboath are sandy loams. James and Hugh produce winter wheat, winter and spring barley, oilseed rape and potatoes. They operate a six to seven-year rotation with two breaks.
Ben farms over 200 ha in Perthshire with his family. Leitfie is a mixed arable and beef unit, growing grass for livestock plus barley, wheat, oats, beans and oilseed rape, with the intention of trying linseed in 2020. The rotation at Leitfie will be a diverse 7 crop 9-year rotation with 3 break crops.
Douglas Ruxton farms Moss-side of Easslie, near Fettercairn, a 121 ha arable unit. Following some research and investigation, Douglas moved away from traditional ploughing to direct drilling, investing in a Claydon Strip Till Drill and straw harrow. Moving to this system in 2012, Douglas has learned a lot about his soils already, and on the whole, is very encouraged by the results to date.
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Ross Mitchell runs Castleton Farm in partnership with his father Murray. The business covers over 600 ha, specialising in strawberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries, supplying Marks & Spencers. Ross and Murray have some root crops and daffodils, although the land is predominantly managed for soft fruit production under polytunnels.
Find out more
- Valuing Your Soils: Practical guidance for Scottish farmers (3.53 MB, PDF )
- Improving soil quality (699.59 KB, PDF)
- Soil Organic Matter (2 MB, PDF)
- Soil management (599 KB, PDF)
- West Mains of Kinblethmont - controlled traffic farming (871 KB, PDF)
- Mountfair Farming Ltd - taking care of soil life (1.12MB, PDF)
- Scotland's Farm Advisory Service
- Scotland's Soils