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64 MAG 8/4/10 3:56 pm Page 1 Issue sixty-four • April 2010

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Ayr Show

5 7

Dairy Issue sixty-four • April 2010

farmingscotland Issue sixty-four • April 2010


Eilidh MacPherson

farmingscotland EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07877897867

t is lambing time, so things are more manic than normal! Last week was horrendous weatherwise but the past couple of days have brightened up and fingers crossed for the rest of lambing. Farmers across the country have been struggling against the elements and many are experiencing worse conditions than we are. My heart goes out to the Weirs of Crairyknowe Farm, Sanquhar. As I go to press, Mrs Weir, who was swept away on her quad bike earlier this week has still not been found. I shore on the farm one afternoon a couple of years back. Having been a professional sheep shearer for six years, working in the UK and New Zealand, I always wondered if it would be possible for a woman to make the NZ Top 30. Congratulations Una – I take my

hat off to you! Good Luck for the coming season – Go Girl! Read all about it on page 8. Ayr Show, fertiliser and potatoes are the main topics this issue. Hugh Stringleman reports on world fertiliser reserves, while Yara touches on the “S” in Grass. McCain and Caithness potatoes feature in the tattie section. I paid a visit to an immaculate dairy near Stair in Ayrshire for the first double spread. Young Andrew Nicol is one capable, dedicated dairy farmer – the only one left from fourteen dairies in the area. I’m typing against the clock faster than usual this time, as my laptop cable has given up the ghost and I only have 32% of the battery usage left. It has still to get e-mailed to the printers. So it is goodbye from me.


Sheep Golden Shears

10 15

Arable Fertiliser/ Potatoes






World Markets Fertiliser

PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson ADVERTISING – Eilidh MacPherson Fiona McArthur Alison Martin Wendy Thompson

– 016444 60644 – 01583 421397 – 01292 443097 – 01575 540209

Cover - Una Cameron cuts the mustard for the coveted Top 30 at the NZ Golden Shears! Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated Page 12- Yara Page 14 - Limagrain Page 16 - ABC Page 17 - McCain


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Issue sixty-four • April 2010

BEEF CATTLE JUDGES SHEEP JUDGES Inter-Breeds Awards – Mr John Kerr, Craigskean Farm, Maybole Blackface – Mr J McWhirter, Grimmet Farm, Dalmellington

Ayr Show

Border Leicester

Mr Scott Brown, Woodhead Farm, Gorbridge, Midlothian Bluefaced Leicester James Arthur Jnr, Greenaton Farm, Carnwath Jacob Mr Gavin Haworth, 24 Upper Union Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire Texel Mr George Howie, West Knock, Stuartfield, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire Charollais Mr Ewan Lawrie, Grangehall Farm, Pettinain, Lanark Beltex Mr John Cowan, 3 Brickrow, Auchincruive, Ayr Zwartbles Mrs Joan Barker, Garris Lodge, Airton, Near Skipton, North Yorkshire Commercial Sheep Mr J McWhirter, Grimmet Farm, Dalmellington Any Other Breed Mr James P Guthrie, 16 Longhill Ave, Alloway


Mr Tom Arnott, Haymount Farm, Kelso, Roxburghshire Beef Shorthorn To be confirmed Aberdeen Angus Mr Neil Wattie, Mains of Tonley, Alford, Aberdeenshire

Mr Tom Nelson, High Kilphin Farm, Ballantrae Suffolk –

Inter-Breed Awards



yr Show stalwarts will be praying for sunshine this season, following the deluge, which beset them in 2009. Show organiser and secretary – Lorraine Murdoch – has been working hard all year, with a dedicated committee, to pull off one of Scotland’s largest two-day shows. The highlight of this year's Ayr County Show is the Rotherwood Championship Prize, awarded by Claire Bell, Director of Rotherwood Furniture, Beresford Terrace, Ayr. The Supreme Champion of Champions wins £1000, with £300 for reserve. “Champions in seven classes: Beef, Dairy, Sheep, Goat, Clydesdale, Pony and Horse are judged by the other champion class judges, who don't mark their own animals. The Champion of Champions then leads the final parade of prizes,” explains show secretary, Lorraine Murdoch.

No other showing Show in Scotland hosts as many Royal International Horse Show qualifiers and is one of the last qualifying shows of the season for this competition. Ninety percent of competitors come from Scotland, mainly from Ayrshire and areas south of Aberdeen with the balance from England. Main ring attractions include a gun dog display, the Polaris ATV challenge, mounted games with the Eglington Pony Club, clowns, the Aileen Robertson School of Highland Dancing, and music from Irish band the Grouse Beaters. The Food and Craft marquee features a stick and crook competition sponsored by the Royal Highland Education Trust. Despite almost getting washed away last year, trade stands are in full support of the West of Scotland’s leading agricultural event. Asked about what he likes about the Ayr Show, Andy Dempster of Aquawash High Pressure Cleaning Equipment quipped, “Well we can't change the weather can we!' On a more serious note Andy, who comes from a farming background himself, enjoys dealing with Ayrshire farmers. “They always support us, and we like to support them. We have a very positive experience with Ayrshire farmers and many who also make the journey from Dumfries and Galloway and Stranraer.' Jim Craig of Craig Wilson Ltd Livestock Auction Mart views attending Ayr Show as crutial to doing business in the area. “It's our home patch. We have to be there to talk one on one with our customers outwith the day to day business of the market.” Peter McLaughlin, Kattrak International Ltd, Kilwinning has taken a stand at the Ayr show for the last 22 years. He feels that the show 'has potential.' It keeps him in contact with the farming customers, who helped him to build his drainage business and he now also reaches newer customers in the landscaping and civil engineering sectors as well as horse owners, who use his services too. He sees Ayr Show as a 'good way to perpetuate your business.' Robin Moir, Agri-Services Ltd, Newmilns says Ayr is a good show for him as "it's a good representation of a mixed customer base – farmers, industrial customers and the public. We deal with all three so it works for us." "Ayrshire continues to be one of the largest and most important livestock

Mr William MacLean, Inverglen, Barcaldine, Oban, Argyll Belted Galloway Mr Chris Marler, Overbrook House, Weston Underwood, Olney, Bucks

John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Highland Stranraer

Mr Fergie Ormiston, 21 Bannoch Place, Kilwinning Hereford Mr B Rimmer, Holmefields Farm, Off Long Lane, Scorton, Preston, Lancashire British Simmental Mr Robert McAllister, Langalbunioch Farm, Kingarth, Bute British Blonde d’Aquitaine Ms Kathryn Lawson, Windsole, Auchterarder, Perth British Belgian Blue Mr Steven Pattinson, Kelowna, Kinkry Hill, Roadhead, Carlisle, Cumbria Commercial Mr Ian Wilson, Wester Cairnglass, Ardersier, Inverness Any Other Continental Breed Ms Kathryn Lawson, Windsole, Auchterarder, Perth Any Other Native Breed Mr Chris Marler, Overbrook House, Weston Underwood, Olney, Bucks

farming areas in Scotland so it is vitally important for Galloway & MacLeod to be present at Ayr Show supporting current and future generations of Ayrshire farmers," said Annual attendance at Ayr usually runs at 18-20,000. Last year's particularly bad weather cut numbers almost in half – but hey, that's farming and we generally survive. Determined not to let the weather get the better of her, Lorraine's learned from the experience, been proactive and put contingencies in place for future shows. However we still hope for, well, clemency!

DAIRY CATTLE JUDGES Dairy Cattle Inter-breed Awards Mr John Gribbon, Dale Ho Barn, Carnforth, Lancashire Ayrshire Mr John Gribbon, Dale Ho Barn, Carnforth

John Douglas, Mains of Airies, Holstein Stranraer Andrew Dennison, 1 Crown Cottage, Scales, Ulverston, Cumbria Jersey Mr John Gribbon, Dale Ho Barn, Carnforth Calf & Showmanship Classes for All Dairy Breeds Mr Brian Weatherup Jnr, Parkend Cottage, Parkend Farm. Crossgates, Fife

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DAIRY Issue sixty-four • April 2010

Dairy Development young farmers to apply. It is sickening that others have received hundreds of thousands to fund completely new ventures, at the higher grant rate.” “It cost us £6000 to apply, preparing a waste management plan and a business plan,” commented Andrew, who is now the only dairy farmer between Mauchline and Stair.

There were previously fourteen dairies on that six-mile stretch of road. Andrew, who farms in partnership with his wife Agnes and his parents, Andrew (senior) and Margaret, switched from First Milk to Graham’s Dairies last year. “We are happy we made the move – Graham’s, like ours, is a family run



oung Ayrshire dairy farmer, Andrew Nicol (40), feels aggrieved to have received no funding from the SRDP grant system

for his £440 000 dairy upgrade investment. “I applied when I was under 40, when they were trying to entice


Ryan O’Neil 07860 708 824 5

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Issue sixty-four • April 2010

business. If we had still been with First Milk, we would have never upgraded and increased the cows by forty head.” The 250 head of pedigree Holstein Friesian cows are now milked in the state of the art 24 point (herring bone) GEA Farm Technologies Low Level Metatron P21 Parlour with feeders and full Automation. It boasts Stainless Steel Multiline cabinets (one of only two in Scotland) and DP Mobile with a hand held v-scan reader. It also has Auto Identification with 250 Foot rescounters, which indicates heat activity. Andrew finds that the Vacuum on Demand Energy saver, 12,000 Litre Westfalia Surge bulk tank cools the milk more quickly and the Extraheat heat recovery system is a cost cutting boon as it recycles the heat energy to heat water. An alarmed backing gate and feed bunker along the back wall are also new additions at Davidston. The main benefit of the development is that it is labour saving, in that cattle are automatically drafted off for handling and milking. Andrew AI’s all the cows himself, currently using straws from Oman,

Spooky and McCormick, mainly sourced from Genus. Teat spraying pre and post milking is also automated. Milking in the previous Fullwood 16 point parlour took 3 hours for 200 cows, now it only takes two hours for the increased herd. One drawback with the new parlour is that the back rail is staggered rather that straight and Andrew reckons that the cows take longer to file in and out of the milking system, as they have to reverse slightly before heading out. The cattle in the new, 175 by 65ft, shed are housed on suspended slats, which have a 270 000 gallon capacity. Currently the dry cows are bedded on straw, but with reduced arable ground and the expense of buying it in, this two-year old, 120 by 78ft, shed had the facility for suspended slats built in. “We’ll have another go at an SRDP grant to see if we can get some assistance to fund converting it to slats and also to erect another new 125 by 26ft shed.” Eight years ago a bulk feed shed was installed at this go-ahead Ayrshire dairy unit. Straights purchased from Smellies of Strathaven, by the artic

TTR Animal Bedding

load, are blended in a mixer wagon before being transferred into a bulk blower lorry and blown into the bins. “This building and system paid for itself in the first two years,” he stated. The slurry is mixed and pumped to the slurry tower and horsed out to the fields by tanker. “We are lucky in that every field has hard road access.”

“We trialled injecting ten acres with slurry last year. I must admit we saw it go in and were not impressed, but the cows went in and did well. It cut back on fertiliser a bit so we will try it again this year.” The Nicols prefer to be in charge of their own destiny and not at the mercy of contractors, so carry out all

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DAIRY Issue sixty-four • April 2010


their cultivation and silage work. “So long as Dad is fit we will carry on. The machinery is a big investment and it is not a huge saving, but we like to be in control,” explained Andrew, who changes the main Massey Ferguson tractor every three years. He was astounded that the list price for the MF 6470 had

through its paces! A self-confessed workaholic, Andrew admits that since having the children – Katie (7) and Drew (5) – the family have never had a proper holiday. “We’ve had a couple of nights in Edinburgh, but nothing more and I’m hoping that the new technology teamed with the freshly appointed morning milker will free me up a bit to have some more quality, family time.” For the past twenty years the dairy cows of Davidston have not been shown, “as we are too busy,” but amazingly Andrew does take a day off now and then to attend the local shows at Ayr and Tarbolton. gone up £18 000 to Daughter Katie let slip that her younger £85 000, since the last purchase. The latest model brother Drew would prefer to farm elephants and giraffes rather than cows at this juncture! arrived from Hamilton Only time will tell if Drew will carry on Brothers ten days before my the dairy tradition as well as the family name visit and Andrew had not and keep Davidston – the only dairy farm seen sight nor sound from from Stair to Mauchline – producing quality his father since, as he was milk in years to come. putting his ‘new toy’

Farmer: Andrew Nicol in partnership with his wife Agnes and his parents Andrew and Margaret Farming: Davidston, 470 acres 275 owned, rest rented on 5 year tenancies Location: Stair, Mauchline, Ayrshire Cattle:

250 pedigree Holstien/ Friesian cows


Spring barley

Labour: Andrew, his father, one full time employee and a part time milker Investments: £440 000 upgrade Plans:



64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 8 Issue sixty-four • April 2010


Golden Shears Success for Borders Couple


he Celebratory 50th Golden Shears, in Masterton, New Zealand, is one event female shearer Una Cameron of St Boswells will never forget. She made history, by becoming the first woman ever to qualify for the Top 30, in the most coveted shearing competition on earth. “I was in top form going into the competition as I had just changed my ticket to come home to Scotland early,” commented Una from her base in Bonchester Bridge, Jedburgh. As there were 107 entries for the Open section, the number of sheep to be shorn was dropped from six to five, so they could get through the


heats quicker. “This really helped me,” said Una, who has been taking it easier this season due to back problems. “They also changed the judging rules slightly in New Zealand this year and were marking a lot harder.” Four of the six stands in Una’s heat were filled with UK shearers: Mark Fox, Delwyn Jones and Adam Berry. John Hand, the comb experter, was another competitor. It was a fast heat with five of the six finishing within blows, with Adam Berry trailing the pack. The Golden Shears has a new rolling scoring facility, where the crowd can see the points for the

board, out the back and for time on screens above the stage. “I personally don’t like the fact that everyone can see your finished score, but I had fours and fives out the back, so was really happy that I wouldn’t be that far away.” “Unbeknown to me, they kept rolling my score, then someone pointed out that I might have a chance. “We looked at the programme and there were a lot of good shearers still to come, so I didn’t hold out much hope.” Three shearers from the UK made the final thirty – all Scots! Gavin Mutch of Forglen, Huntly, who is married and farming in New Zealand, qualified in fourth position. Jordan Smeaton of Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire, in 24th and Una in 29th. “My worst fear was actually walking down the middle of the crowd and onto the stage. Once past there I was OK.” Her heat included Gavin Mutch and David Fagan. “When I came off everyone clapped me all the way round, which was quite embarrassing – I felt very humble.” Gavin went on to qualify in 8th place in the Top 30, securing himself a stand in the semi-finals once again. Gavin, who has represented Scotland at the World Champions in 2005 (Australia) and 2008 in Norway, has made it into this prestigious final three times in the past four years. He was up against 10 North Islanders, including 16 times winner David Fagan and one Southlander, Nathan Stratford, in his bid to reach the six-man final once more. Unfortunately for Una it was the end of the road this time. She held

her own, coming 29th again, beating fellow Scot Jordan Smeaton into 30th. The semi finals saw Gavin miss out this time. An outsider, Cam Ferguson went on to claim the title and a place in the team to travel to Wales for the World Championships. Shearing in New Zealand is taken seriously as a sport and reports are printed in the sports section of the newspapers. This year once the full NZ team has been selected, with the last places being filled at Te Kuiti this weekend, the team to represent the country in Wales at the World Championships this July will be drug tested – both urine and hair tests. Una’s mother, Rose Cameron, wondered if her daughter would retire after making the Top 30. But it has been one of Una’s ambitions for a long time and it has fuelled her enthusiasm. She now has her eye on a place in the Scottish team and making the Top 12 and the semi-final at the Golden Shears next year. She has just started her training programme for the coming season – cycling, weights and a cross trainer. A new quality, bicycle had to be purchased as the Tesco one last year virtually fell apart! Her partner Geordie Bayne, who is a living legend in shearing circles – a past World Team winner and renowned for shearing Dolly the Sheep, made the Veteran’s final. Hand pieces were dusted down this year for the 50th anniversary. Left handed shearer and now politician, Colin King took centre stage, while Geordie came in 5th. “It is an honour to be the first woman to make the Top 30,” concluded Una, who is framing her Top 30 black singlet.

64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 9


To advertise in magazine call one of the team to discuss your requirements: – Eilidh MacPherson 016444 60644 Fiona McArthur 01583 421397 Alison Martin 01292 443097

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Wendy Thompson 01575 540209


64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 10 Issue sixty--four • April 2010


Caithness Potatoes


he Scottish seed potato crop may have shrunk from its post Second World War total when more than 300,000 tonnes or tons as they were in those days, of seed were sent down to England every year. Nowadays, there is a smaller tonnage available but one with much higher health standards, which not only heads south but is also exported to more than 30 countries throughout the world. This season will see the highest ever total of Scottish seed potatoes going abroad and a large percentage of these spuds come from Caithness Potatoes. This company was set up twenty five years ago with the express aim of increasing the Scottish export trade. This year, Caithness bred potatoes have produced more than 20,000 tonnes of seed for export. Critical to its early success has been the work of Dr Jack Dunnett, the potato breeder with the world wide reputation. Dr Dunnett is now in his eighties and while he still does some breeding work the organisation has its own in house programme as well as links with other research work at institutes such as the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie. The first really successful variety to come out of the CP was Nadine, which featured highly on the home trade until recently when the acreage grown has started to wane slightly. Robert Doig, Old Fargie, Glenfarg, has been one of the directors of Caithness Potatoes (CP) for the past twenty years and the majority of the varieties he grows under the family business of Robert JS Doig Ltd, in the Perth, Kinross and Fife areas come from this well known breeding organisation. “The growing requirements for a variety in the Mediterranean


countries are different from those required in Scotland. Nadine could thrive in the hotter drier weather and that is why it became popular in the export trade. “It has helped pay the bills for a number of years but now demand is slipping a little. In addition it will soon lose its plant royalty rights as they expire after thirty years.” Nadine was also one of the first potato varieties to be bred with resistance to one of the main strains of potato root eelworm and this, along with its smooth white skin helped its take up in the English market. Other varieties grown by Robert for the export trade include Valor, which is in demand abroad but does not feature highly in the UK. In contrast, Osprey, is now taking a quite significant acreage in the UK with pre packers picking up on its bright clear white skin as a selling feature. A large tonnage of Winston has gone to Israel this year, where it is hoped this white skinned early can cope with the extremes of heat and cold experienced in that country. The main markets for Caithness bred varieties have been Egypt and Israel. Breakthrough sales in these countries have been helped with two of the Caithness Potato directors who are based in London having direct links with farming organisations in Egypt. Looking ahead, Robert, who is the chairman of the Seed potato and Export Group of the Potato Council, believes that there is a good long term future for Scottish seed potato growers both at home and abroad. But he qualifies that optimism by adding that the market will depend very much on Scotland keeping its high health status.

by Andrew Arbuckle

“It is essential that we keep disease out of Scotland. We have a ‘safe haven’ scheme where seed growers agree not to bring potatoes in from other areas because of the threat of importing disease.

Some English potato growers may see attractions in bringing in Dutch varieties but they should be aware that there are diseases on the Continent such as Ring Rot that we do not have.”

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64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 12 Issue sixty--four • April 2010


Optimising Grassland productivity “With less labour on farms, farmers are much more dependant on agricultural contractors,” says Drew Watson, who has been contracting for over half a century.


rass is one of the most valuable assets on a livestock enterprise and remains the dominant feed for the dairy, beef and sheep sector, however, in the majority of cases it is never actually sold off-farm, which makes valuing it difficult. One way of looking at the financial contribution of grass is to look at the value of milk that can potentially be produced from 1 DM tonne by considering its energy content. Assuming an M.E. of 10.9 MJ/kg for silage (1 DM t contains 10,900 MJ of energy), and assuming 200 MJ is required to produce 25 litres milk (including maintenance), the energy from 1 DM tonne would be capable of producing 1,363 litres of milk. At a milk price of 25ppl, this would equate to a value of £340 / DM t of grass. Comparing the value for money of silage compared with brewers grains, silage comes out a long way ahead when looking at the return in terms of milk production per £1 spent. Using brewers grains represents a return of £2.74, whilst 1st cut silage represents a return of £6.04 (Based on ABC grass production figures, November 2009). Boost profit from Sulphur With the importance of grass comes a need to produce optimal yields as efficiently as possible, with the highest nutritional quality. This is true for both grazed and conserved grass. If the silage/grass produced is of poor quality i.e. low Dry Matter (19%), low D Value (62%), low ME (10.7 MJ/kg DM), high pH (4.5), and low Crude Protein (10.5%DM) then animal performance will be affected giving reduced live weight gains and milk output. To achieve this consistent supply of quality grass feed


to the cow, management practices have to be adopted that have this as their goal. Part of this management process must therefore be the use of inputs, such as fertilizer, that can consistently deliver the correct nutrients to the grass in the correct quantities. The most recent Defra Survey of Fertilizer Practise shows only 5% of the grassland area received an application of sulphur in 2008. With atmospheric sulphur deposition declining markedly over recent years to an average of 10 kg/ha, although a large number of areas will receive significantly less, there is now plenty of evidence to show real yield benefits from its application. There have been concerns that excessive sulphur concentrations in grass can reduce absorption of copper by livestock, which may have deterred

some from its use in the past. However, where sulphur is applied at recommended rates, the total sulphur supply to grass will be smaller than the amount deposited from the atmosphere up to around 1980. A spend of £1 per ha on sulphur for both first and second cut silage grass can lead to a return of between £18-45/ha. Applications of sulphur help to increase yields (average 10-17%) and increase grass quality (improved energy content 5-10%). Average yield increases of 0.69 tDM/ha (first cut) and 0.79 tDM/ha (second cut), have been seen in trials from applications of 38kg SO3/ha. This increase in yield, combined with an increase in ME of 4% (taking it from 10.9MJ to 11.4MJ/kg) can lead to an energy yield increase of 10,536MJ. At an energy cost of 1.24p/MJ (based on an equivalent

cost for Brewers Grains) this would lead to a return of £18/ha, but converting this energy to potential milk production would lead to a return of £45 for every £1 spent on sulphur. Sulphur is the building block of protein and as such its role in the plant helps to improve growth and development. As grass grows sulphur is used together with nitrogen, therefore sulphur deficiency decreases nitrogen use efficiency. Sulphur also helps to increase the conversion of nitrogen to protein, so plants deficient in sulphur are likely to have more unutilised nitrogen in the leaf. Excess nitrate in the leaf will impede the fermentation of silage, and will have a direct impact on DM intakes. An application of 40m3 of cattle slurry can provide 32kg/ha SO3, however the amount of this which is available to the crop is low at around 5-10%, therefore only 1-3 kg SO3/ha may be available to the plant, which is well below the optimum requirement and further applications will be necessary to improve grass yield and quality.

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64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 14 Issue sixty--four • April 2010


by Ian Misselbrook

red clovers in the sward will help boost protein content in the silage clamp, and also fix nitrogen in the soil. “Sowing a red clover blend, like Red Admiral, will also ensure more consistent yields through the cutting season. Sinclair McGill's Colossal Red is designed for silage leys and contains the Red Admiral blend along with

Reseed or overseed to repair winter-damaged leys


fter the coldest winter in Scotland for 49 years, grassland in many areas has suffered winter kill and swards are in poor condition. So to prevent a lack of summer grazing or silage shortages, farmers need to put a reseeding or overseeding plan into action to repair the swards and regain their productivity, says Limagrain's Ian Misselbrook. “Grasses vary in their ability to withstand freezing temperatures, and so it's important to sow varieties that have been tested under Scottish conditions,” explains Ian. “The SAC has a grass testing facility at Aberdeen, allowing the performance of grasses under harsh winter conditions, and factors such as disease resistance, to be evaluated. “Using the results from there, a Scottish range of Sinclair McGill grass seed mixtures is formulated, containing varieties with proven winter hardiness, and resistance to mildew, which is a problem more common in northerly climates.” Repairing winter damage “Now is a good time to walk all the grassland fields and see how much damage has been done over this past winter. In some fields, a total reseed may be needed, in others, where damage is patchy, then a targeted overseed can be done to fill in the bare patches. “It's especially important to seed bare areas because these provide the perfect location for weed seeds to land and germinate – this includes the less digestible weed grasses, as well as the more obvious broad leaved weeds like docks.


“If forage is short, then a 'quick fix' solution is to reseed in the spring with Italian ryegrass or Westerwolds. These grasses grow very quickly and enable a silage cut to be taken in July. “For reseeding long term leys, Castlehill, a grass and white clover mixture with varieties specifically selected for the Scottish climate, has always proven popular. Sowing leys, which include clover, also cuts the grassland fertiliser bill – a well established grass clover sward can supply the equivalent of around 150 kg/ha of nitrogen. Adding clover to leys Clovers need warm moist soils to germinate – so spring sowing where soil temperature is rising is ideal, although sowing can be done anytime before late August, providing adequate soil moisture is available. “Clover seed should be sown close to the surface – so for best results, slot-seed or over-sow with a grass harrow and seedbox. “Clover seed is also very small in size and low in weight. So when oversowing clover seed on its own, it's best to use seed which has been pelleted, so that it is heavier and larger to allow a more even distribution. Sinclair McGill's pelleted Cloverplus also includes a biological growth stimulant Headstart, to aid establishment in a competitive environment. “For clover to establish successfully and remain in the sward, attention to agronomy and an appreciation of the plant's requirement for light and space is needed. “Clover is more sensitive to soil nutrient status than grass. So ensure

a pH of 6-6.5, along with P and K indices of at least 2. Soil-testing one quarter of the farm every year will highlight where any nutrient shortfalls or pH adjustments are needed. “When sowing clover, nitrogen should not be applied, except for low N status soils, where a maximum of 50kg/ha N may be needed.” Leys for cutting “For silage leys, the inclusion of

three tetraploid ryegrasses. “Grassland should be monitored throughout the year. However, key times to re-assess reseeding requirements are early spring, post-silaging and autumn. Always sow mixtures according to the intended purpose of the field – long term or short term, grazing, cutting or both, and ensure mixtures sown are suitable for the Scottish climate,” concluded Mr Misselbrook.

64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 15

ARABLE Issue sixty-four • April 2010

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64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 16 Issue sixty-four • April 2010


Future Investment


other and son, dairy farmers, Anne and John Kerr, from Woodhead Farm, Newmilns, have recently completed the construction of a multi-purpose building on their 300-acre dairy unit in the Irvine Valley, Ayrshire. With three main functions – straw-yard housing for up to 60 cows, purpose-built machinery workshop facilities and a large covered feed storage area – the new building has been designed to enhance the way the Kerrs farm. The 23m by 7.4 metre steel frame building replaces a traditional barn, which was in dire need of major renovation work. “Restoring the old barn would have left us with a lot of space that we couldn't use,” Anne remarked. “So we decided to invest in a modern design that gives us a lot more flexibility.” Expanding production With demolition of the old building completed, construction began in November 2008 and the new shed was completed in March 2009. “We have steadily been increasing cow numbers from 130 eight years ago, to the 200 we have today. The new


building will reduce pressure on the existing cubicles and will also give us room to expand production in the future if we need to,” added John. The Kerrs only housed the cows in the new building for one month last winter, but they are confident that it will radically change their daily working routine. “We have quite short summers and the cows are usually housed from early September through to April,” John explained. “This winter we are hoping to see some significant benefits in terms of herd health and productivity. We are already saving one hour per milking due to the improved building layout,” he added. Increased cow comfort There are likely to be other benefits as well. “Freshly calved cows will be more comfortable on the straw yards. We are also hoping the improved conditions will help us to achieve our goal of one extra lactation per cow so that we don't have to bring expensive heifers into the herd.” The feed storage area and workshop facilities will also help to reduce costs. “Now we can buy feed in bulk and do our own machinery

maintenance,” John explained. “It all helps to reduce the number of bills coming in each month and makes milk production more cost efficient.” Streamlined finances Funding for the building work was arranged through AMC Agent Tom Donald, of Fenwick. “AMC quoted the most attractive lending rates despite the fact we were looking for funding just at the time when the international banking crisis was coming to a head,” Anne explained. “We took out a loan to fund the building project, and also transferred some of our overdraft facility to

reduce interest payments. This helped to streamline our finances and has helped to bring some much needed stability to the farm business. “The service AMC provided was very efficient,” said Anne. “Everything went really smoothly and the loan was agreed and processed quicker than we had anticipated. And we were kept informed of progress throughout the whole process.” “It makes sense to invest now” At 28 years of age, John is confident that there are good times ahead for Scottish dairy farmers. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life so it makes sense to invest now to make the farm as straightforward and workable as possible. “The cycle of prices going up and down is getting shorter and there is increasing price volatility within the sector. We need to do everything we can to become as efficient as possible, and the new shed is just one step in achieving this.” John is already thinking about the next investment at Woodhead Farm. “We are not currently in a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, but this will probably come in the future. We will need to start planning fairly soon to make sure our slurry storage facilities meet the necessary standards.”

64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 17

EDUCATION Issue sixty-four • April 2010

SAC of Tatties


cCain Foods announced it will establish a bursary scheme at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), which will simultaneously offer students access to excellent learning resources, practical experience and access to private sector insight. Demonstrating McCain Foods’ commitment to its long and productive relationship with growers, the SAC Bursary builds on existing McCain scholarship programme at Askham Bryan Agricultural College, York. Since 1986, McCain has operated a dedicated seed business at its site in Pugeston, Montrose, which contributes over £5 million a year into the Scottish potato supply chain, and is now one of the UK’s largest seed businesses. Speaking at the launch event at the SAC’s Edinburgh campus, Graham Finn Associate Director, Agriculture at McCain Foods (GB), said, “For over twenty years, Scotland has been the heart of McCain Foods’ seed business. Growing over 25,000 tonnes of seed potatoes each year for our farmers throughout the UK, it has ensured that, where possible, McCain chips are made from 100% British potatoes. Aware of our responsibility to the farming communities which provide McCain with its core product – the great British potato, we hope the bursary will encourage the next generation of Scottish farming talent to pursue a career in agriculture.” Richard Lochhead MSP, Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, commented, “This groundbreaking partnership between the SAC and McCain aims to encourage the next generation of Scottish talent to flourish across the

food and farming industry. I hope the new scholarship will help to ensure that potato farming continues to be an attractive crop choice and career for the farmers of the future.” Applications will be open for students due to start their second year of study in October 2010, with candidates selected on their academic performance from all three SAC campuses, Aberdeen, Ayr and Edinburgh. The Scottish Agricultural Bursary will support students undertaking Agriculture Degree

courses, helping them to develop strong farming, crop production, farm management skills, alongside practical experience through paid work experience in the McCain Supply Chain during vacations. David McKenzie, SAC Vice Principal and Head of SAC Learning, “The Scottish Agricultural College is delighted to participate in McCain’s Agricultural Bursary Programme, which will assist SAC’s students in financing their studies whilst gaining good practical experience of working

in a modern company. It is a very welcome investment in the development of talent and skills for the long-term future of the potato industry.” SAC Principal Consultant and Potato Agronomist, Dr. Stuart Wale added, “The potato industry desperately needs young blood and there is a demand for expertise across the sector. This timely initiative by McCain is to be welcomed. It will introduce new talent to an exciting enterprise.” Allan Bowie Vice-President of NFU Scotland said: “It is fantastic that we are seeing initiatives such as the McCain's Scholarship Programme coming from businesses within agriculture. McCain's are undoubtedly very important to the Scottish potato sector and it is great that they are encouraging students into the industry in this very practical way, particularly in the current financial climate. "Over the years there have been many advances in the Scottish potato sector including new technologies and new products, all of which have helped to cement the great reputation that Scottish potato growers have. It is important that we have the best possible students coming up through the ranks to drive that forward, both in the immediate future and by staying in the industry in the long term. Schemes such as this are a tremendous step in the right direction, helping to do just that. "We wish both the scheme and the students every success."


64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 18 Issue sixty-four • April 2010


World Fertiliser Markets

by Hugh Stringleman


stronomical price rises for fertilisers during 2008 were a warning of permanently higher prices in future, industry watchdogs and agricultural commentators have said. Although the costs of farm nutrients went down again when the soft commodities boom collapsed, next time they go up exponentially it will be for much more serious reasons – a shortage of supply and rampant demand. Australian agri-professor Julian Cribb, a former journalist who knows how to pick his words, has warned of “peak phosphorus”, which means the world's reserves will run down. He said the cost of nutrients could rise 500% to 1000% over the next 20 to 30 years and called for a national nutrient plan which would encourage loss minimisation and re-cycling. Cribb said large proportions of applied nutrients are lost to excretion, exporting and erosion. "Nutrients are the oil of the 21st century. "The nation which looks after and re-uses them will prosper both economically and environmentally. It will never hunger. "The nation which can most successfully 'close the loop' on nutrients by recycling will be at a global economic, nutritional and competitive advantage as well as having cleaner water and a healthier natural environment. "It will be more food secure on a planet destined for global food insecurity," he said. Cribb's colleagues at the University of Technology Sydney have argued that phosphorus supply is finite and that more than one-third of the world's need comes from Morocco, from politically unstable regions. China has the largest known reserves, but in 2008 it placed a tariff


on exports to protect domestic supplies. It has been estimated that China uses 40% more fertilisers than its crops need, resulting in about 10 million tonnes of fertilisers a year being deposited into rivers and lakes. The US is thought to have just 25 years of deposits left, stopped exporting a decade ago and has begun importing. Diammonium phosphate (DAP), which is the main phosphatic fertiliser in countries which do not use superphosphate, recently rose in price by 50% to US$450/tonne, but still has a way to go to reach its 2008 peak of $1260. Humans consume three million tonnes of phosphorus annually in their food and excrete it again, which has led some nations to consider recycling urine as a fertiliser. It is claimed the nutrients in one person's urine will grow half to all of the food for another person. The researchers warn that the trend towards western diets in developing countries, with greater consumption of meat and dairy products, disproportionately raises the consumption of phosphorus. A balanced diet, one not weighted with meat and dairy, consumes 22.5kg phosphate rock per person per year,

or about 3.2kg P. That is 50 times greater than the recommended daily intake of P at 1.2g. Thus most of the P goes to waste. The worldwide phosphorus industry is also very energy intensive and creates distortions in food production. Thus Africa is both the world's largest source of phosphorus but also the region of greatest food shortages. That is because phosphorus is mined in Africa and sent on long voyages, where in the developed world of the United States and the European Union (which is entirely dependent on imported phosphorus), about one third of the energy usage is in fertiliser production and use. Apart from the practical suggestion of recycling human waste, the researchers don't offer much practical help in reducing phosphorus use in agriculture, and of course the human race has to eat. Six billion people will become nine billion by 2050, which requires a second green revolution to avoid starvation. The limitations on crop volumes and yields are arable land, irrigation water, tillage energy and plant-available nutrients. However there are those in positions of knowledge in the

fertiliser industry that say Cribb and his colleagues are crying wolf. They say Morocco still has one hundred year-plus supplies, China has reserves and other deposits will become economic to mine if world prices rise. Saudi Arabia is building a massive DAP plant to use its own rock and New Zealand, one of the world's largest phosphate importers, has known reserves, under the sea on the Chatham Rise, which at US$200 per tonne for rock, mining becomes viable. World prices are only half that level now, but they did rise to US$400 briefly during 2008. Ballance NZ chief executive Larry Bilodeau, a Canadian, said his home country had hundreds of years of potash reserves, while urea is made from nitrogen in the atmosphere. China can make considerable gains in efficiency of fertiliser use, and would be forced to make cuts in tonnages applied because of environmental pollution due to over-fertilising. He said fertilisers in China have been cheap, offering quick yield boosts without monitoring or technological advice, but the loss of nutrients into water had been huge, and could not continue.

64 MAG 8/4/10 3:57 pm Page 19

Insurance Cover – Commom Misconceptions Advertorial


ur staff encounter many farming customers during the course of a year and unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions regarding their insurance cover and terms and conditions which apply to all policies. Some of the most common are: Sums Insured Many believe that they only need to insure their livestock for the maximum amount they could lose in a claim... However, when calculating the Sum Insured this should reflect the maximum value at risk at any time. For example where livestock is at more than one location the total value at all locations must be declared. Failure to insure for the full amount can have serious consequences in the event of a claim. For example, if the sum insured chosen is £100,000 and the total value at risk is £200,000 – should a claim occur the insurers will pay only half the amount claimed. Goods in Transit Motor insurance policies do not cover farm goods in the vehicle or livestock in trailers. Separate cover must be arranged for this, usually within the Farm Combined policy. Diversification Diversification activities must be notified to insurers. For example a standard farm motor policy covering tractors may also cover an excavator. The cover applies when the vehicle is being used for Agricultural purposes but not when being used on building sites to dig foundations. Cover, of course, can usually be given but the insurers must be notified. Motor Insurance Comprehensive cover does not automatically allow: A) B) C)

Any Driver cover Business Use Driving other cars cover

When driving other cars, cover does apply but is not on a comprehensive basis so it is important to check who can drive the vehicle and the use allowed by the policy. Business Items within the Home Household policies only cover domestic goods, therefore business items such as cattle passports are not covered by the home policy. However, Cattle passports can be covered under the Farm Combined policy.

Vehicle Theft Insurance policies now carry a clause excluding theft cover when the keys have been left in the vehicle. This applies even where the vehicle is parked in the yard at the farm.

A) B)

Crime reference number Vets report / salvage voucher for livestock claims C) Written repair estimates D) Written estimates for replacement goods

A problem can occur where a policyholder uses a repairer / supplier not approved by the insurer which is more expensive than the insurers chosen supplier would have been.

Evidence of Loss In the event of a claim it is the policyholder's responsibility to prove their loss and provide evidence (at their own expense) of the amount claimed. Generally claims must be reported within 30 days and typical examples of documentation to be provided are:

Recommended Repairers / Suppliers Insurers often have their own recommended repairers for motor claims who can supply courtesy vehicles while repairs are being done. Similarly they have arrangements with suppliers of electrical goods who will deliver a replacement item to the policyholder's home.

Finally, the most important point to bear in mind throughout the insurance process is to always speak to your insurance adviser, whether when arranging the cover or in the event of a potential claim as mistakes can prove to be very expensive and cause unnecessary distress.


64 MAG 8/4/10 3:58 pm Page 20

Issue 64  

Monthly farming magazine in Scotland

Issue 64  

Monthly farming magazine in Scotland