Farmer Focus: Scottish Parliament meeting causes alarm

For the past year I have been involved in the Biodiversity & Profitability programme, a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange scheme funded by the Scottish government.

It involves 20 farmers within the Scottish Borders all with different businesses.

At the end of February I was lucky enough to be sat in a chair at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood with 36 other farmers, crofters, and growers from all over the country.

See also: Why grain maize could be a profitable spring cropping option

About the author

Annabel Hamilton
Annabel Hamilton farms 1,100ha of arable in the Scottish Borders with her parents. The arable area grows 65% winter and 35% spring crops. She is Basis and Facts qualified and runs a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. The farm finishes more than 300 Limousin cattle a year.  Follow Annabel on Twitter @annabelhami11
Read more articles by Annabel Hamilton

We were discussing the future of farming in Scotland, our different projects, and what we had learned from one another as part of the initiative.

We were joined by half a dozen MSPs as well as George Burgess, the director of agriculture and rural economy.

But as the open discussions began it became clear not all of us were in agreement – something which shocked and worried me as we were sat with individuals who could influence change in Scottish agriculture.

I was alarmed at the naivety in the room among farmers and crofters who disagreed with “intensive agriculture”, to which I admit our farming business would be classified.

I have never felt out of place as a farmer, but I did that day – let’s just say I had some interesting conversations defending our practices.

There is a place for all farmers, crofters, and growers in Scotland, but that day brought home to me that we are not all on the same page with the future of Scottish agriculture.

I hope in time we will all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Meanwhile on the farm, it’s safe to say spring drilling has not commenced.

The first nitrogen applications were applied to all autumn crops and these have greened up nicely.

With my mother, Carol, away in South Africa, it’s a good time for a couple of new pieces of equipment to arrive on farm.

The newest arrival will be an 8m Kuhn power harrow which will allow us to operate only one machine, one tractor, and one operator rather than two of each.

The power harrow is an important machine in our toolbox, creating an even seed-bed, especially in spring crops.

A wise man once told me: “You only get one chance to sow the seed, so do it right.”

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