16 August 2002

Top Scots unit is offered

By Andrew Shirley

ONE of Scotlands leading arable units is to be sold following the decision of a farmer to move to New Zealand with his young family.

Spylaw and Ladyrig farms, near Kelso, cover 1726 acres of predominantly Class 2 soils that have been efficiently utilised by Michael Salvesen to grow a wide range of crops including vining peas, flower bulbs and carrots. But it is potato growing that Mr Salvesen claims as his main passion and the facilities available for handling the crop are second to none.

Four modern stores, two of them refrigerated, provide space for 5000t of potatoes, and 90% of the soil on the farm is suitable for growing them, with 100 acres under irrigation.

There is grain bin storage for 3200t of cereals, and Mr Salvesen says the farm has a long-term average of over 4t/acre of winter wheat.

But the farms attributes are not all arable; well-designed accommodation for 250 cattle is also included.

The entire property, offered in five principal lots with 22 cottages also up for grabs, is being guided at £6.25m by joint selling agents FPDSavills and Strutt & Parker who believe, despite the current poor returns from arable farming, there will be plenty of demand.

"These are well known farms that would always generate a great deal of interest even in a better-supplied market," says Savills Charles Dugdgeon. "This sale is of such significance I do not discount a professionally orientated farmer selling his own unit to take advantage of such a rare opportunity," adds Andrew Smith of S&P.

Mr Salvesen says the timing of his decision to sell has been influenced by factors other than low commodity prices. "My wife and I both worked and honeymooned in New Zealand and have always had a hankering to go back."

Searching out new opportunities abroad is also in the blood. Mr Salvesen is descended from the Norwegian trader Christian Salvesen who emigrated to Leith, Scotland, from Norway in 1851 and set up the major logistics concern that still bears his name. He is not cutting his ties with Scotland completely and will still retain an interest in the family poultry enterprise. &#42