Best Soil in Show 2016: ready, steady, dig!
Following on last year’s extensive programme of activities to mark the International Year of Soils, the James Hutton Institute has a new partner this year for its quest to highlight the Best Soil in Show at the Royal Highland Show. Alongside the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS), the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) and Soil Association Scotland will again support the competition and champion category prizes.
For 2016, the competition has been opened to all farmers across Scotland, as well as to the previous categories for Young Farmers and Organic Farmers. There will be lots of interest in whether the overall Best Soil in Show has been managed organically or not, or whether it belongs to a young (or old!) farmer.
The inclusion of NFUS to roll out the competition universally will broaden the pool of entrants and no doubt help stimulate debate about different approaches to farming and soil stewardship.
Andrew Bauer, NFUS Deputy Director of Policy, commented: "Healthy soils are fundamental to sustainable and profitable farming, so NFU Scotland is delighted to be supporting this very worthwhile competition.
"NFU Scotland hopes many of its members will show the good work they do to protect and improve their soils, and enter them in the competition.
"The Union also encourages all its members to do all they can to ensure that the health of Scotland's soils is sustained and improved - thereby safeguarding this precious resource for the future."
Farmers around the country are being asked to enter samples of their own soils which will be judged on their physical and chemical properties to identify the winner. Multiple samples can be entered by individuals and by clubs, and these can cover both organic and non-organic management techniques – that’s the best way to increase the chances of winning, too!
With growing awareness of the role of soils in life as we know it, the competition is a great way to draw attention to the need for active management of the vital resource that soil is: it’s about what you do with what you’ve got. The Best Soil in Show asks entrants what they’re growing in the soil, the rotations they are operating and what they are adding to the soil.
The competition highlights the importance of maintaining healthy soils and that land managers can do a lot to influence this. Soils deliver many basic agricultural and ecological benefits and farmers use the characteristics and condition of their soil to make informed decisions about its management.
The James Hutton Institute has over 90 years’ experience in soil and crop research and also hosts Scotland’s National Soils Archive. The prize-giving for Best Soil in Show will take place at the Royal Highland Show, in the James Hutton Institute marquee.
Like last year, as well as the trophies and the glory, the winners will receive full compositional, structural and chemical analyses of their soil. UPDATE: The closing date for entries has been extended to Friday 22 April 2016, so be sure to get your entry in! To get an application form and related documentation click the links below:
- PDF file: Application form (169 KB)
- PDF file: Sampling instructions (162 KB)
- PDF file: Terms and conditions (187 KB)
More information from: Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media and External Relations Coordinator, Tel: 01224 395089 (direct line), 0844 928 5428 (switchboard) or 07791 193918 (mobile).
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