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Moray has the Best Soil in Show 2017

Best Soil in Show 2017 prizegiving at the Royal Highland Show
"Best Soil in Show highlights the importance of soil for productivity as well as sustaining a wide range of benefits to our environment. The soils submitted to the competition represent the best of Scotland’s high quality soils"

An organic farm in Moray has been awarded the prize for Best Soil in Show at the Royal Highland Show 2017. Knock Farm has been declared the Best Soil winner jointly by NFUS President Andrew McCornick and Soil Association Chief Executive, Helen Browning.

Knock Farm, a 445-hectare mixed farm situated on the southern slopes of Knock Hill in the east of Moray, has been farmed by Roger and Beth Polson since 1989 and was purchased by Beth’s grandfather in 1922. The farm won the Organically Managed Category and the Overall Best Soil in Show. Likewise, Alistair Brunton received the Young Farmers category award on behalf of Balmonth Farm, near Carnbee in Fife.

NFU Scotland’s President, Andrew McCornick, who farms near Dumfries, said: “I am delighted for the winners and congratulate all those that entered this competition.

“When farm incomes are under pressure, investment that protects or enhances the structure and health of soils can often be neglected but these winning entries show what can be achieved. Regardless of farming systems, healthy soil is at the heart of every farmer or grower’s business and the value in getting it right drives efficiency, profitability and benefits the environment.”

Helen Browning, Chief Executive of the Soil Association, commented: “Farming may change, but the importance of soil as a fundamental resource for all farm businesses remains. These awards recognise the fantastic job that these farmers do as stewards of the soil, and I congratulate both winners of the Best Soil in Show award for their good soil management.”

After commending the winners, Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, added: “Best Soil in Show highlights the importance of soil for productivity as well as sustaining a wide range of benefits to our environment. The soils submitted to the competition represent the best of Scotland’s high quality soils and shows that farmers are aware of its importance and a need to invest in this natural capital. The James Hutton Institute aims to raise awareness of soils importance and undertake research that enables farmers, landowners and society to benefit from better soil, crop and land management.”

The importance of good soil management was highlighted by the closeness of the result between the non-organic and organic category winners. Dr Jason Owen, soil scientist at the James Hutton Institute and member of the Best Soil in Show judging panel, said: “As in previous years the competition was very close receiving soil samples from across Scotland managed both organically and non-organically.

“After assessing the physical nature of the soils and taking into account laboratory derived data the panel chose a soil with excellent structure in large part due to its organic matter content, thus making it resistant to erosion and degradation, key attributes with current pressures on soils, and ensuring adequate drainage. Data obtained from chemical analysis indicated a balanced nutrient content, neither excessively high nor very low, applicable to agricultural soils.

“Soil health is paramount to ensuring sustainable agriculture within Scotland and globally. It is heartening that the agricultural community within Scotland recognises their soil resource and the importance of good management practices.”

Roger Polson of Knock Farm, said: “Maintaining the health and vitality of our soils is fundamental to the holistic approach we take to farm management, soil structure, soil life and nutrient balance are all monitored regularly and have been for many years well before we began farming organically 11 years ago.

“It is great that these organisations are promoting this competition to highlight the importance of good soil management to the sustainable development of agriculture in Scotland.”

Young Farmers category winner Alistair Brunton commented: “Over the past 50 years my grandfather and father have worked worked hard to improve the nutrient status at Balmonth. The new technology that is now available will allow us to fine-tune applications when that is what is needed. I am surprised and delighted to have won this award.”

It is the fourth year the James Hutton Institute has run the Best Soil in Show competition, with support from NFUS, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and Soil Association Scotland. More than 40 samples from all across Scotland were judged on compositional, structural and chemical criteria, in a drive to highlight the importance of maintaining healthy soils and the role played by land managers.

The James Hutton Institute has over 90 years’ experience in soil and crop research and also hosts Scotland’s National Soils Archive, which is a reference to the state of the soils in the past and is used to test new analyses and monitor changes in soil over time. To make this data available to land managers, farmers and the general public, the institute has developed two apps (SIFSS and SOCiT) and the website in partnership with Ricardo-AEA for the Scottish Government.


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Printed from /news/moray-has-got-best-soil-show-2017 on 26/01/22 05:03:26 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.