14 June 2002

Trial plots and advice to fore in learning event

It is eight years since the

last Royal Northern Crops

event. This year it is back with an added

environmental slant.

Andrew Swallow visited

East Fingask in

Aberdeenshire to find out

more about the event and

profile the host farmer and

convenor, Willie Ritch

THE Royal Northern Crops and the Environment event sees the gate thrown open on nearly 20ha (50 acres) of agronomy and variety trials on June 26 at East Fingask, near Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire.

While there will also be over 40 trade stands the focus is firmly on practical learning opportunities for growers rather than shiny machines and corporate hospitality, stresses convenor and host farmer, William Ritch.

"There will be plenty of SAC Scottish Agronomy advisers on hand to explain what is going on in the plots. The information will be much more relevant to Scotland than similar events in Lincolnshire or East Anglia," he says.

The trials are grouped by crop in three fields around the Ritchs main farm steading. All include Recommended List variety tests with fungicide, seed rate, pgr and crop nutrition work on view according to crop.

"The winter oats are furthest from the farm because we feared they would not survive."

Visitors will also have a chance to look at lupins, the latest contender for the important home-grown protein market.

Six lupin varieties are being grown alongside tried and largely failed, at least in Aberdeenshire, crops such as peas and spring beans in the hope of finding a viable alternative to imported soya.

Indeed, protein crops will form part of the first of three keynote seminars to be held during the day in the grain store, conveniently located between the trials fields. "It makes a fantastic auditorium," says Mr Ritch.

John Bax, technical manager for one of Europes largest biotech companies Biotal and a former SAC specialist, will talk on whole crop harvesting, both for energy and protein uses.

His talk will be followed by the official opening ceremony, to be performed by East Anglian arable farmer, Crops columnist and chair of the HGCA marketing initiative, Marie Skinner.

In the afternoon SAC cereal specialist David Cranstoun will review the latest developments in cereal varieties, notably malting barleys, and Fife farmer and county FWAG chairman Gordon Rennie will talk about the practicalities of farming in an environmentally friendly way and opportunities in the new Rural Stewardship Scheme.

EVENT DETAILS

The Royal Northern Crops and the Environment event takes place at East Fingask farm, near Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, starting at 8.30am on June 26. The event is organised by the Royal Northern Agricultural Society with sponsorship from the Clydesdale Bank and Kemira Fertilisers. All trials are run by SAC, most with HGCA funding. Entry is £5 a head.

Exhibitor list

Aberdeen College

Aberdeenshire Archaeology Service

AICC (per Allathan Associates,

Sponsors)

Allied Grain (Scotland)

A M Philip

Angus Fertilisers/Carrs

ANM Group

Aventis Cropscience

BASF

Bayer

Caledonian Seeds

Clydesdale Bank

CSC Crop Protection

Dalgety Arable

East Coast Viners Grain

Farmdata

Farm Services

George Sellar and Son

Glencore Grain

Gordon & Buchan Machinery Ring

Grampian FWAG

Grampian Woodlands Company

Groundwater

Highland Industrial Supplies

H.R.N. Tractors

Johnston Carmichael

Kemira

Kongskilde

Monsanto

Nickerson

North Eastern Farmers

North of Scotland Grassland Society

Phosyn

P&S Murray

Ringlink (Scotland)

RSPB Scotland

SAC

Scotgrain Agriculture

Scottish Natural Heritage

Semundo

Smiths Gore Farm Management

Soilessentials

Station Garage

Stewart Agricultural

Strutt and Parker

Syngenta

Turriff Agri Parts

Vaderstad

Ythan Project

Provisional bookings from:

Finnie 4X4

Superior Grain and Milling

UAP

Welding Consultants