Efficiency tips for arable farmers

Arable farmers whose businesses have been hit by extreme weather conditions over the past year will be given a helping hand at an event early next month.

Farmers growing crops in Angus and Tayside are continuing to suffer from the effects a devastating 2012 had on their businesses. They faced increasingly unpredictable weather and rising input costs while the price of their own products fluctuated wildly in response to global events.

The legacy continues with damaged to fields and farms and less stored crop to sell than they budgeted for and for many it is a time to take stock, review the way they do things and find ways to improve things.

SAC Consulting, a division of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, is holding a free event at Ladenford Farm near Forfar at 10am on Tuesday, March 5.

Involving staff from the Cupar, Forfar, Perth and Stonehaven offices it will offer farmers guidance on ways to improve their efficiency and ultimately the financial returns to their businesses.

Four topics will be addressed in the morning session and before the lunch provided. With many fearful about the damage done to soils during the wet harvest, SRUC soil specialist Dr Bruce Ball will draw on 35 years of experience to show farmers how to assess their soils for problem signs and discuss options available for alleviating soil compaction.

There will also be additional advice from Tony Powell of Michelin on tyre choice and pressures for today’s agricultural equipment.

In the other two presentations Dr Fiona Burnett from SRUC and Bill Thomas, of the James Hutton Institute, will discuss the best use of chemical inputs and how advances in plant breeding will benefit arable farms in the future.

With energy costs rising fast two SAC Consulting staff, Chloe McCulloch and Kate Hutcheson will explain how energy buying groups, for electricity and fuels oils, can save significant sums on an annual basis

After lunch there will be two seminars covering crop marketing and precision farming. Senior SAC rural business consultant Julian Bell will provide an update on the cereal markets and give an outline of how a marketing strategy can maximise returns from crops.

Specialist company Soil Essentials will explain how simple precision farming techniques, using GPS technology, can improve soil nutrients save costs and maximising arable crop returns.

There will be an opportunity afterwards to revisit any of the four morning workshops missed, or to gather further information and to look over a range of cultivation equipment.

SAC Consulting is staging the event with backing from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council with this event.

In order to help with catering arrangements those planning to attend should register by contacting Euan Hart at the SAC Consulting Forfar office on 01307 464033 or email euan.hart@sac.co.uk