Livestock farmers urged to take leaf out of Crop Sector book on soil health

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NFU Scotland’s Vice President Martin Kennedy has urged Scotland’s livestock and grassland farmers to take a leaf out of their cropping sector colleagues’ book when it comes to improving soil health.

Writing his blog while spreading lime on his Highland Perthshire farm, Martin and his family are two years into a five-year programme that will see them soil test every field and then, using GPS technology, target nutrients and fertiliser to where they are most needed.  But such technology, often combined with minimum tillage or no till, has been widely adopted by those growing crops for many years.

The benefits after Year One on Martin’s farm are stark.  Not only is soil health improving but savings on fertiliser of £30 per tonne have already been achieved.

Martin writes: ‘I would urge all those in the livestock and grassland sectors who don’t presently use this technology to take a leaf out of the arable sector’s book and treat grass with the attention it deserves.  After all, from a livestock perspective, it’s every bit as important.’

And the big win in building on Scotland’s excellent record on soil health is in storing carbon, an important element in tackling climate change.

‘Scottish farmers could do more on soil health, but let’s remember that in comparison to some other parts of the world, we are starting from a pretty admirable position. Politicians need to recognise these efforts, particularly in the arable sector, and appreciate that, if we’re not careful, the opposite of what is desired will be achieved,’ concludes Martin.

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