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Lothian and Borders Farmers Back on Farm After Two Years of Zoom

Duns farm hosts visit to demonstrate innovative plough-free tillage with June meeting to involve Ukrainian farming specialist

Lothian and Borders farmers are getting back out on farms after two years of conducting business via Zoom.

More than sixty Lothian and Borders farmers visited innovative farmer Neil White at Greenknowe farm, Duns in Berwickshire last week as he hosted NFU Scotland’s regional arable group.



Over the last seven years, Neil has been working to leave his plough in the shed. He has switched to strip-till practices to direct drill crops and cover crops into the soil using a Mzuri Protil. 

He informed the group that he is still discovering and finding out what can be done for best results but shared his findings from the last few years. To date he has found that he has increased the organic matter in his soils by around a fifth - from 3.3 per cent to almost 4 per cent - along with a noticeable improvement in the workability, water and machine carrying capacity of the land. 

Neil said: “When I started, I used the Mzuri Protil on 20 per cent of my land and the remaining 80 per cent was conventional tillage. Over the years, I have learnt a great deal and gained confidence and now it is entirely the other way around; in fact, nearer 90 per cent direct drilled with the Mzuri and 10 per cent ploughed before planting.  

“Given the recent hike in fertiliser prices, the machine’s ability to place fertiliser directly beside the crop is a great advantage, not only to the crop, but also to my bottom line.”

The other very noticeable difference that Neil has seen is the abundance of earthworms in his soil.  The innovative technique sparked a lively discussion followed by a walk of the crops which looked in very good shape.

Lothian and Border Regional Chair Debbie Playfair said: “Being back on farm and hearing and seeing someone’s experiences at crop root level is invaluable and a very much under rated resource. Neil admits that he did a great deal of research before starting down the Mzuri track, and he kindly shared his experiences with us, the good and the not so good. 

“It is great to be out and about again, and I am delighted to announce that the next Lothian and Borders members’ arable meeting will be held on Thursday 2 June at Mertoun Estate, Ploughlands Farm, St Boswells when Jack Parsons the manager will give us an overview of operations. 

“We also welcome Dr Keith Dawson, Director of the Central Plains Group, Ukraine who will be joining us and sharing his thoughts on the outcome and impact of the tragic situation in that country. We will be taking a collection on the day and every penny will go to help on the ground where it counts. Keith has already helped both refugees and military with food, clothing and other support.”

Farmers looking to attend the June event are asked to contact Jac Neill at the NFU Scotland St Boswells office on 01835 822274 with their NFUS membership number to register for the meeting on 2 June.  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 07788 927675

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 43/22


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