Scotland has a legally binding commitment of being net-zero by 2045, and a 31% reduction is required in emissions from agriculture by 2032. This topic will be under discussion in the fourth Arable Conversations session on 29th June 2021 at 6:00 pm, chaired by Kenneth Loades (James Hutton Institute) and including David Aglen (Balbirnie Home Farms), Alison Milne (Crafty Maltsters), Matt Ward (Farmacy) and Matt Aitkenhead (James Hutton Institute).
Chairing the discussion on ‘Net Zero Making Carbon Pay’, Dr Loades is also the sector lead for soils and crops within the Scottish Environment Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) Gateway, supporters of this year’s Arable Scotland event.
Panellists taking part in the ‘Conversation’ include farmers David Aglen, Farms Manager at Balbirnie Home Farms, and Alison Milne from Demperston Farm and Crafty Maltsters; independent crop agronomist and precision farming advisor Matt Ward from Farmacy, and Dr Matt Aitkenhead from the James Hutton Institute, who is a research scientist with a speciality in developing modelling approaches related to soil carbon.
There is a clear need to understand where barriers currently exist and where opportunities lie and how these can be applied to help achieve the targets. Do we currently have the right tools? What support does the industry need? What will be the most effective way to move forward? These are some of the questions that will be put forward to the panel and we hope will encourage a lively, interactive debate, with all comments and opinions welcomed.
Below is a brief biography of each of the panel members:
- David Aglen: David is the Farms Manager at Balbirnie Home Farms, a 1200 hectare mixed farm with 800 hectares of arable crops and 200 suckler cows. Balbirnie is also the current AHDB Strategic Cereal Farm in Scotland and is focusing on regenerative agriculture, which includes looking at the use of soil and plant health metrics to direct the need for inputs. The mission and vision of the strategic farm is for a ‘collaborative approach [which] draws on intelligence from industry to ground-truth novel management decisions’.
- Alison Milne MBE: Alison’s life and career is centred around agriculture where she is involved in the family farm, Demperston near Cupar in Fife. The farm produces cereals over 750 acres including barley which is produced for their own small scale malting business, Crafty Maltsters. Within the business, Alison describes herself as ‘Chief of everything else’ however this also includes being a member of the Arable Climate Change Group (ACCG), formed in December 2020. The group recently published ‘A new blueprint for Scotland’s Arable Sector aimed at providing recommendations to Scottish Government on practical measures to improve efficiency, reduce emissions, and mitigate the environmental impacts of farming (amongst others).
- Dr Matt Aitkenhead: Modelling is a key aspect of Matt’s work at The James Hutton Institute where he is a researcher within the Information and Computational Sciences group. Matt is also a member of the British Society of Soil Science where he is chair of the Scottish Soils Discussion Group coordinating activities, discussions, and raising awareness of soil and issues. Previous work has included the mapping of soil carbon stocks in peatland through the use of remote sensing data. Matt can offer insight into the potential monitoring and measurement of soil carbon. This information will be critical in establishing a baseline for assessing change with technology offering potentially viable, cost-effective, approaches and techniques.
- Matt Ward: Matt is a services leader within Hutchinson Ltd providing high quality independent agronomic advice to the industry. Within this role Matt has been involved with the development of TerraMap carbon, a tool allowing accurate mapping of both organic and active carbon, amongst other chemical measures, within the soil. Matt is acutely aware of the growing need to monitor carbon due to possible options for inclusion as a measure for assessing future farm payments. Achieving Net Zero is not just about carbon storage but also about increasing fertilising efficiency and adopting a range of technologies to help achieve this. It is clear that a single approach to tackling the challenges of Net Zero is not an option and that we need to adapt and adjust based on each farm’s specific challenges.
Delegates can take part in the Arable Conversations by using the hashtag #ArableScotland on Twitter to submit questions during the sessions.
Arable Scotland is delivered in partnership by the James Hutton Institute, Scotland's Rural College and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), with support from the Farm Advisory Service, SEFARI, The Scottish Farmer, Hutchinsons and the Scottish Society for Crop Research. Commercial exhibitors present at the event include Yara, CHAP Solutions, SoilEssentials, Corteva and Smart Rural.
The event is free to attend, and visitor registration is open at https://hopin.com/events/arable-scotland. Five BASIS points will be available to delegates.