Arable Scotland 2020 is building on the inaugural event in 2019 and will this year focus on some of the key challenges and opportunities facing the arable industry.

Sustainability and the twin issues of climate and biodiversity, set the scene, but solutions will be the focus of the day.

Alternative crops have a key place in meeting or mitigating these problems and will be the front and centre theme at the event. Alternatives also have a role in improving soil health and decreasing plant health risks.

The science and industry demonstrations at the event will showcase alternative crops like legumes, oats and oilseeds, novel crop choices and cover crop options. Longer rotations, aided by more alternative crops, may help with mounting plant health concerns in our main arable crops – for example, resistance issues and the acceleration of pesticide losses.

Field plots will also demonstrate the efficacy of alternative integrated pest management (IPM) methods and their place in healthy rotations. Diversity of crop choices brings opportunities, of which energy crops are one option for discussion and demonstration at Arable Scotland 2020.

Oats may seem a traditional Scottish crop, but with greater emphasis on the health and nutritional benefits of staple crops, there are attractive markets for this alternative cereal.

Cover crops can bring tangible benefits in terms of pest control or fertility but can also be challenging to slot in to Scottish rotations. How their benefits can be maximised will be also be demonstrated and discussed.

The ‘Arable Conversation’ sessions were particular hits at last year’s events and are back again for 2020, picking up on the key industry challenges and themes of the demonstrations.

The place of diversification in making the arable industry more sustainable and the benefits and issues it can bring will be the subject of one of the four participative discussion.

Helping the industry make a fair transition to carbon zero is another crucial discussion to have and this conversation will be led by experts from the Centre of Expertise for Climate Change (CXC) who can look at the key carbon efficiencies for agriculture but also examine where this might present carbon opportunities for agriculture to help other industries.

The best markets and opportunities for arable crops and how we can maximise the markets around alternative crops will be discussed in the third of four Arable Conversation events on the day.

This session proved one of the most lively discussion events over winter meetings, as well as at last year’s event, so it promises to be an even more informative session this year.

Finally, there will be a plant health session lead by Scotland’s Plant Health Centre of Expertise. This will allow a free discussion of what the key concerns are and what potential there is in both conventional IPM and in new technologies to manage plant health threats.

The session will consider if there are any easy wins that can readily be taken up and try to identify the hard issues facing the industry where radical industry solutions or novel government policies might be needed.


Arable Scotland 2020: July 2 at Balruddery Farm, Invergowrie

Event partners: SRUC, The James Hutton Institute, AHDB

Event supporters and sponsors: Farm Advisory Service, Hutchinsons, SEFARI, Scottish Farmer.