Meet the Helping It Happen finalists: Innovation in Farming Award
Our Helping It Happen Awards tell the story of those rural business who are playing a key role in enabling and supporting success in rural areas. This year’s finalists in the Innovation in Farming category are fantastic examples of those who are doing things differently, no matter the size or scale of farming being carried out.
Let’s take a closer look at the fantastic finalists in the Innovation in Farming category, which is kindly sponsored by Douglas Home & Co.
“Without change, you cannot expect things to get better” is the motto at Sweethope Farm. Being a part of the Yield Enhancement Network, and further industry and farm led trials, has sparked a rethink about how things are done and how to get the costs down. Regular measurements have been taken, such as tissue analysis and broad-spectrum analysis, to understand any weakness in the cropping system. A spin-off benefit has been through using auto-steering on the main tractor so David can geo-reference fuel consumption during cultivations. The tractor consumes more fuel where soil is stiff and heavy. These areas are the places where fewer seeds germinate and predation from birds and slugs is high. This information can then be used for variable rate applications of seed.
Elchies Estate in Speyside began from a vison of producing high quality products while deploying traditional values of zero waste. Innovations to overcome the limited infrastructure and knowledge in the UK and creative market positioning solutions, have been key to growing their herd of South African Boer Goats. This herd of goats – the goat equivalent of an ‘Aberdeen Angus’ meat breed – is now the largest meat herd in Scotland, growing from ten goats in 2010 to over 350 today. Social media has been an effective tool, with Twitter yielding ongoing sales contracts with Michelin Star restaurants in London, and Facebook growing a significant local market. Unique open days attracting up to 1,600 visitors also assist in achieving Elchies vision of “friends not customers”.
Westfield Farms is a family business through and through. Working as a team across their three innovative and established businesses, Westfield Spelt, Ola Oils and The Greengrocer, they have been able to drive the businesses forward, contributing to its success for generations to come. As farmers who have diversified their services to add value to the goods they grow, their focus is on creating innovative and nutritious produce – from the being the first to bring cold pressed rapeseed oil to the market in Scotland, to their custom made vegetable boxes which include fresh produce picked on the same day its delivered to customers doorsteps.
For Durie Farms, it's not been easy, but the commitment to a 'soil-centric' approach to sustainable farming is paying off. Focusing on improving soil health, increasing soil organic matter and biodiversity has resulted in a profitable business with wider environmental benefits. ‘Soil Study’ tours in the USA and France confirmed that Douglas Christie is going in the right direction by prioritising the role of soil, not only for enabling a more resilient method of food production, but also as an important ecoservice provider. By following regenerative agriculture principles, bought in inputs such as artificial fertiliser, chemicals and machinery have been reduced.