RESEARCHERS at Scotland’s Rural College have highlighted the need to build resilient farms – and will be holding an event on the matter in Dumfries next week.
They are teaming up with colleagues from SAC Consulting to identify key challenges, including rising costs, unpredictable weather and the removal of pesticides, and create solutions that work on farm.
While there is no single solution, they say combining innovative and agro-ecological approaches could help farmers maintain yields and ensure Scotland retains self-sufficiency when it comes to food production.
Innovative techniques include using drones to highlight problematic areas in crops; sensors on livestock to allow early detection of welfare or health issues; and soil testing to allow more targeted use of fertilisers.
Meanwhile, soil health can be restored by increasing organic matter, integrating livestock into cropping systems and using cover crops to protect soil over winter, while intercropping, multi-species swards and adaptive multi-paddock grazing will improve biodiversity both above and below ground.
Dr Lorna Cole, ecologist at SAC Consulting, said: “Our research illustrates that building resilience into farming systems is not about going back to traditional practices, but embracing technology and combining this technology with the knowledge held by generations of farmers.”
The issues will be discussed at a meeting at the Barony campus on Monday. For more information, visit: https://SAC-BuildingResilience.eventbrite.co.uk.