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Perthshire has the Best Soil in Show 2016

Angus Elder (l) and Hugh Grierson, winners of Best Soil in Show 2016
"Together with farmers, growers, policy makers and agencies, the James Hutton Institute aims to make the best of our soils to help to deliver sustainable economic growth in Scotland and beyond.

An organic farm in Perthshire has been awarded the prize for Best Soil in Show at the Royal Highland Show 2016. Hugh and Sascha Grierson of Newmiln Farm were declared the Best Soil in Show winners by National Farmers Union of Scotland president Allan Bowie, and Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute.

Newmiln Farm is a traditional family farm in Perthshire, located in the Strathearn valley 7 miles west of Perth. It received organic status from the Soil Association in 2002 and now supplies purebred Aberdeen Angus beef, home bred lamb, rare breed pork, slow-growing chickens and free range organic eggs to a range of customers throughout the UK.

The Young Farmers category was awarded to Angus Elder, of organic holding Chapel Farm in North Berwick, East Lothian. The 500-acre farm produces a range of organic fresh vegetables including potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swede, leeks, sprouts, cabbage and beetroot.

NFU Scotland’s President, Allan Bowie, who grows cereals in Fife and Stirlingshire, said: “I am delighted for the winners and congratulate all those that entered this worthwhile competition.

“Increased awareness around the health of Scotland's soil is hugely important, not just for today's farmers and crofters but also for those that will be farming in the future.

“Being aware of the soil's nutrient status and structure, regardless of farming systems, must be at the heart of every farmer or grower’s business because the cost of getting it wrong has a massive impact on efficiency, profitability and the environment.”

After commending the winners on behalf of the James Hutton Institute, Professor Campbell added: “Scotland has a long tradition of excellent soil science. We’re recognised around the world for not just this science but how it’s applied to support decision-making by governments, industry and farmers. Together with farmers, growers, policy makers and agencies, the James Hutton Institute aims to make the best of our soils to help to deliver sustainable economic growth in Scotland and beyond.”

Laura Stewart, Soil Association Scotland Director, said: “We’re delighted that both winners of the best soil in show prizes are organic farms. They’re doing a fantastic job managing their farms in a way that is good not only for the environment and land but also for productivity and profit. Organic or otherwise, soil is every farm’s most precious resource and asset, so we’re very happy to see soil management as a focus at the Highland Show again this year. Through initiatives like this competition – as well as those like our own programme of free events - we hope to encourage farmers and growers of all kinds to explore sustainable ways to make the most of the soil they have.”

Stuart Jamieson, SAYFC National Chairman, added: “Soil plays a vital part in our landscape, and is the foundation of our food production. Maintaining a healthy soil requires care and effort as well as a good understanding of all the various components that impact our yields. SAYFC has once again enjoyed working with the James Hutton Institute and I would like to extend my congratulations to our East Lothian JAC member Angus Elder.”

Dr Allan Lilly, soil scientist at the James Hutton Institute and member of the Best Soil in Show judging panel, commented: “We received samples from both conventionally and organically farmed soils and the competition for top place was very close.

“After considerable deliberation the panel chose a soil with a well-developed soil structure demonstrating good soil management. This makes the soil more resistant to erosion and degradation, and helps ensure adequate drainage. The data obtained from chemical analysis showed a balanced nutrient content, sufficient levels of organic matter and a pH that was in the optimal range for crop production.’’

On behalf of Newmiln Farm, Sascha Grierson said: “We are delighted that our farm’s soil at Newmiln has won Best Soil in Show. We believe that good food comes from a good system. Soil health and human health are interlinked via the food that we grow and eat. Our business is about linking what we do with a healthy future for our environment, our animals’ and our customers.”

Young Farmers category winner Angus Elder said: “I was delighted when I got the phone call to say I had won. It's reassuring to know that the goals we set ourselves in terms of soil quality are on the right track.”

It is the fourth time the James Hutton Institute has run the Best Soil in Show competition and this year saw the institute join forces with the NFUS, SAYFC and Soil Association Scotland. 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.

Notes to editors:

NFU Scotland is Scotland’s leading agricultural organisation, representing 8500 farmers, crofters, growers and rural businesses.

The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC ) is the largest rural youth movement in Scotland, bringing together those between 14 and 30 years of age who have an interest in agriculture and the countryside. Established in 1938, SAYFC currently has more than 3500 members who contribute to over 80 clubs throughout Scotland. The current motto "Not just for those who wear wellies" enhances that the association is not just for farmers, SAYFC is for anyone who would like to be part of a youth organisation where they can gain personal development opportunities that will benefit them during their time as a Young Farmer, and in the future.

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 to pioneer a better world – one where we can all eat, farm and live healthily, fairly and in harmony with nature. Today, Soil Association Scotland (formed in 2002) is still dedicated to pioneering practical solutions for change. We want to see more farming that’s good for the natural world. We want to see more organic businesses thriving. And we want access to good, local, fresh food to be a reality for everyone. Through Soil Association Certification we are the leading certifier of organic products in the UK, with 70% of products carrying the Soil Association symbol. For more information visit

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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.