SRUC is one of three industry organisations to have joined forces to launch a brand new field-based arable event for Scotland.
Arable Scotland, which is jointly organised by SRUC, AHDB and the James Hutton Institute will take place at Balruddery Farm, Invergowrie on 2 July.
The event aims to bring together the key players in food production from farmers to distillers and exporters to demonstrate and discuss key industry issues such innovative and sustainable farming.
While all Scottish arable crops will feature, this year’s event will focus particularly on spring barley for its markets. Future Arable Scotland events will major on other crops and alternative markets and will track new innovations over several years.
On average, over 250,000 hectares of Scotland’s arable land is devoted to the production of spring barley, much of which will be used as a base for malt whisky, while a significant chunk will be used as animal feed. Growing spring barley for whisky isn’t always easy, but it does pay off, with farmers paid a premium for a high-quality crop.
Although barley is a mainstay in Scottish arable rotations, it needs to be profitable and sustainable, something very much a focus of the event.
Visitors to Arable Scotland will be taken on a whistle-stop tour of a core set of innovation-focused field plots, as well as having the chance to visit a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibitors, field-based demonstrations and trials and tours of the Centre for Sustainable Cropping Platform.
Professor Fiona Burnett from SRUC said: “This year’s event will feature an incredible range of crops and management techniques including intercropping, crop protection, innovative varieties, technological solutions and novel crops. We hope that they showcase to growers potential new avenues they could explore which will help make them more productive, profitable and sustainable in future.”
The event will host a number of ‘Arable Conversations’ focusing on new entrants, sustainable agriculture, future crop production and grain markets. These sessions will see industry experts introducing the issues involved before inviting the audience to participate in an open discussion.
Claire Hodge, senior knowledge exchange manager, AHDB, said: “With the Arable Conversations we were keen to avoid simply informing people about a subject we felt was important. Instead we want to encourage them to share their experiences so we can jointly guide industry forward. That’s what these sessions are all about.
“However, we know not everyone is comfortable speaking out at these types of open sessions so they will also be able to text questions or comments which can then be shared with the group.”
This year’s demonstration plots are focused on four key areas or ‘zones’ in the field – innovative breeding, quality crops for defined markets, innovative crop management and sustainable farming systems. As well as featuring on regular tours throughout the day, visitors will also be able to speak directly to the companies and researchers who have set up the demos.