Plans are moving on apace for the new Arable Scotland event, planned for this summer on July 2 at Balruddery Farm, Fowlis, by Dundee.
This is a brand new annual event for Scotland where the industry can meet, debate, view and review the new innovations that will drive the markets and future sustainability of Scottish arable production.
It is being organised by a collaborative team which includes sponsorship from Hutchinsons and with The Scottish Farmer as its media partner. The wider industry and science partners have taken plots and stands at the event and will showcase new agrochemicals, varieties tools and technologies.
The site will be open and heavily staffed all day for attendees to drop in and see the demonstrations and network with others.
Professor Fiona Burnett, of Scotland's Rural College, who, along with Professor Adrian Newton, of the James Hutton Institute, is co-ordinating the event said the event will promote the quality and profile of Scottish produce and strengthen networks between producers, end markets, support industries and innovators.
“The industry has been quick to throw its support behind this new event, which fills a real gap in the summer calendar of UK events. It is a chance to promote the crops, technologies and farming systems that are best suited to Scotland's farming systems and markets, and which can enhance the yield and quality potential of our arable crops" she told The SF. "It's been great to work with a cross-cutting group and develop the concept and gather sponsorship so that the event will be free to attendees."
As well as the sponsorship of Hutchinsons and from industry exhibitors, the event also has sponsorship from the AHDB levy board, the Farm Advisory Service and from SEFARI Gateway (the knowledge exchange group for the Scottish Research Institutes).
As well as field plots with new varieties and innovations there will be discussion forums and a marquee with exhibits and stands. Discussion forums will run throughout the day on topics such as new entrants, the SEPA Crop Production Sector Plan, markets and sustainable farming, the latter led by Caroline Drummond, from LEAF.
Each discussion session will be chaired by an industry leader and have farmer members on the panels to lead the conversations. There will be a chance to input questions in advance as well.
The Balruddery site is also home to the SRUC central region trial plots for 2019 and to the James Hutton Institute's Cropping Platform so people attending will be free to wander the site and tour the platform site in addition to the main events.
Special tours of any aspect of the site can be organised for pre-booked groups with the intention of attracting an additional audience of market end-users. Participants will register and be greeted by a guide and can start the event with a short action-packed tour around a core set of innovation plots demonstrating the innovations and practices which will improve Scottish crop production efficiency and sustainability.
The demonstration plots will be manned by key science experts and by experienced agronomists so that science really does meet practice.
After this scene-setting start where key messages will be relayed, participants can free flow to surrounding research trials and industry partner demonstration plots which will be themed along the core area zones and visit exhibits in a marquee.
They can see points of interest to them in the surrounding experimental trial site where the details of the core zones will be unfolded in the detailed experiments and signage on display. This year the core-innovation plots will major on spring barley with zone one featuring pre-breeding innovations and zone two the current market leads for malting and feed.
Zone three will cover innovative management methods and zone four will set spring barley in the context of wider sustainable production systems for Scotland. Claire Hodge, the senior arable knowledge transfer manager for AHDB in Scotland, is keen to emphasise the broad range of crops and topics the event will cover.
"The organising team is already developing a five-year plan so that future events will focus on the full range of combinable arable crops but will also cover novel crops, energy crops and key food crops. Going forward, the event will major on key market drivers such as feed, energy and spirits but also include themes such as novel crop traits and systems," she said this week.
The event pulls together an impressive weight of expertise with input from Scotland's Rural College, the James Hutton Institute, the Rowett Institute, University of Dundee, the International Barley Hub and the Scottish Government Centres of Expertise for water, climate change and plant health (CREW, CXC and the Plant Health Centre).
To help on the plant health side, the mobile laboratory from the UK Agritech Centre CHAPs will also be at the event. Industry plots and stands from Farming and Water Scotland, Kings, Glenside, SoilEssentials, Scottish Quality Crops, SAC Consultancy, LEAF, Corteva, UPL, and Syngenta will all be present.
There will be series of blogs and articles in The Scottish Farmer leading up to the event - with blogs from panel session members in the discussion forums in the planning. There will also be full 'post-match' event coverage and future articles to highlight key findings from the trials at the site.
It is definitely going to be a date for everyone's diary.
Professor Fiona Burnett emphasised the open and collaborative nature of the event. "We're excited about welcoming people to this event. There is no doubt we are entering challenging times but the industry has a huge amount to gain by pulling together at an event like this, learning from the best of the best, talking with stakeholders and buyers and contributing to the debate about how we continue to keep Scottish arable production at the top of the quality, sustainability and yield tables."
The website for the event is: www.hutton.ac.uk/events/arable-scotland-2019
• Innovative breeding: new tools, new resources, real needs
• Quality crops for defined markets: Up and coming or niche varieties and linked market information
• Innovative crop management: crop protection, precision tools
• Sustainable and healthy systems: Intercropping, rotations, healthy soils