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Tayside young farmer awarded Best Soil in Show 2014

Douglas Greig, Best Soil in Show '14, with Paul Wheelhouse MSP and Prof I Gordon
The Best Soil Award highlights the importance of good, healthy soils and recognises the role that must be played in maintaining them (...) It is essential that we promote sustainable management practice for soils amongst our next generation of farmers and crofters who are the stewards of the land.

A 16-year-old young farmer has shown that the future of Scotland’s soils is in safe hands by winning the Best Soil in Show at the Royal Highland Show 2014. Douglas Greig, from Tealing by Dundee, was declared the Best Soil winner by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

It is the second time the James Hutton Institute has run the Best Soil in Show and this year they enlisted the future stewards of the soil, young farmers, to help roll out the competition right across the country. Samples from farms the length and breadth of Scotland were judged on their physical and chemical properties to identify the winner.

This year’s champion Douglas hopes to study agriculture at college in September having recently left Forfar Academy. He lives on the family farm, five miles north of Dundee, which is 150 acres of mixed arable crops. Douglas has always had an interest in farming and besides giving his dad a hand, he enjoys competing in vintage ploughing matches.

“Entering Best Soil in Show was his own idea and he was getting anxious that he had not heard anything about the results; then we received the phone call to say he had won and he was over the moon,” parents Allan and Lesley said.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Good quality soils provide a multitude of benefits that truly underpin our environment and economy: they improve our health and wellbeing, entire ecosystems depend on them and they are a key determinant of the success of our food and drink sector as well as a crucial means of tackling the capture and storage of damaging greenhouse gases.

“The Best Soil Award highlights the importance of good, healthy soils and recognises the role that must be played in maintaining them. That is why I am so pleased to present this year’s award to Douglas, as it is essential that we promote sustainable management practice for soils amongst our next generation of farmers and crofters who are the stewards of the land.”

Professor Iain Gordon, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, 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 governments, industry and farmers. Together with farmers, growers, policy makers and agencies we at the James Hutton Institute aim to help to deliver sustainable economic growth in Scotland though innovation, research and application of the new tools and advice.

“We were delighted to work with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs this year to roll out our Best Soil in Show competition to the next generation of farmers.”

Dr Jason Owen, soil scientist at the James Hutton Institute and a member of the judging panel, explained the merits of Douglas’ submission.

“The winning soil had a sandy silt loam texture and an 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. Furthermore, data obtained from chemical analysis indicated a balanced nutrient content, neither excessively high nor very low, applicable to agricultural soils.”

Notes to editors

The Scottish Association of Young Farmers (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 3000 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 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. In a drive to make this data available to land managers, farmers and the general public, the Institute has developed two mobile apps (SIFSS and SOCiT) and the website www.soils-scotland.gov.uk in partnership with Ricardo-AEA for the Scottish Government.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


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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.