14 February 1997

Investment in drainage and machinery pays off

Continuing our barometer series we profile this years Scottish farm. Andrew Blake reports from Stirlingshire

IMPENDING drought may be a worry for many UK growers. But for Scott Adam any easing of his annual 1270mm (50in) rainfall is welcome.

Memories of the washed-out 1985 harvest are still strong at Hill of Arnmore, Kippen, 11 miles west of Stirling. "It was a disaster," says Mr Adam. "We only managed to combine our spring barley. We didnt get any wheat or oilseed rape in. It really dented us."

The past two seasons on the 130ha (320-acre) arable/stock unit have been drier. Now the very dry winter is worrying.

The family has held the tenancy since the 1930s. "Father, George, is still active and we have one other full-time employee, John McGowan."

Despite the 1985 setback, policy is to keep a balance of crops and stock. "I like growing crops and it is safer not to have all your eggs in one basket."

Based in the Carse of Stirling, in the upper Forth Valley, the farm has soils ranging from potters clay to reasonably easy working loam. "We run from 50ft above sea level up to about 450ft."

Nearly all fields are ploughable. But terrain and average field size of only 5.3ha (13 acres) make 12m (40ft) a sensible tramline limit.

It is hungry land. "Our P and K levels are all fairly low, so we are trying to build them up."

Recent soil sampling highlighted copper, manganese and zinc deficiencies and confirmed a known sulphur shortage. Remedies are applied both as solid fertiliser and foliar sprays.

The dry winter seems to have encouraged moles at Hill of Arnmore where Scott Adam farms 130ha of clay to loam soils.