The Scottish Farmer is delighted to be once again on board with the organisers of the Arable Scotland event, which will again take place in a virtual sense on June 29. Several topics will take centre stage during the day-long event and in this preview of the event we cover the first of those – 'Arable Conversations': Alternative markets and new cash crops (11.30am-2.30pm).

This topic in the 'Conversations' series will discuss the season's market potential and the current rollercoaster of grain prices.

It will also look at new crops being trialled in Scotland, plus opening new doors and opportunities for the cereals sector will also feature. Chris Leslie, from AHDB, will lead the discussion with support from this interesting line-up of panellists.

Robert Ramsay – Soil Essentials

Describing himself as both an ‘eco-nerd’ and an arable farmer, Robert farms at Kinblethmont Farm, near Arbroath, in Angus.

Robert Ramsay of Soil Essentials

Robert Ramsay of Soil Essentials

He is a firm believer in the need for agriculture to look beyond existing food markets and learn about new opportunities and products. He currently represents an association of 10 growers, based in Angus and Aberdeenshire, who are growing hemp seed for food, with an eye to developing different markets in future years.

Hemp production is an area which he sees as having real potential as a new market for Scottish arable farmers and he will put forward his views on how we can establish a viable industry in Scotland and build scale. He will highlight where opportunities and new markets could be identified.

Hemp is used to make a wide variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bio-plastics, insulation, bio-fuel, high quality animal feeds, building materials, and also health supplements and pharmaceuticals.

Industries, such as the plastics industry – which have always been reliant on fossil fuels – are now looking to agriculture to provide sustainable alternatives, he pointed out.

With other industries faced with a similar need to decarbonise their operations, agriculture has an important role to play in helping meet climate change targets. Robert will lead a discussion on how the farming industry can meet the challenge of delivering against these targets by leading the way in the sequestration of carbon into clothing, paper, buildings etc.

James Webster – AHDB Market Intelligence

The son of a Suffolk arable farmer, James joined AHDB in 2016. As a senior analyst in the AHDB’s Market Intelligence team, he specialises in the cereal and oilseed markets.

James Webster of AHDBs market intelligence department

James Webster of AHDB's market intelligence department

His key areas of focus are domestic milling, wheat markets, global oilseeds and the wider macroeconomic impacts on the UK cereals markets. He also produces the Cereal Quality Survey and AHDB’s work on gross margin analysis.

In the webinar, he will provide the latest insight into the state of play in the domestic and global grain and oilseed markets and offer a view on the decline in global grain markets and the fall in UK wheat prices.

He will also offer an update on the condition of crops and the expectations for harvest. He will look at how the market will shape up as lockdown decreases and offer some insight into alternative markets.

Julian Bell – SRUC

A Senior Rural Business Consultant at SRUC, he will be providing an update on Scottish grain markets and discuss how the recent collapse of Scottish grain trader, Alexander Inglis and Son, is impacting the industry.

Julian Bell of SRUC

Julian Bell of SRUC

Julian is responsible for delivering business services to farmers, government agencies and farming businesses, and provides economic analysis in agriculture, investment appraisal, benchmarking and commodity market analysis. He has many years’ experience in agricultural contract management and consultancy with Scottish, UK and international experience.

Wendy Russell – University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute

Wendy is the gut health theme lead and Professor of Molecular Nutrition at the Rowett Institute.

Wendy Russell from the University of Aberdeens Rowett Research Institute

Wendy Russell from the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute

Her research focuses on developing healthy foods as part of a resilient food supply chain. This includes identifying the potential of plant-based crops, particularly in protein provision for the future and the exploitation of underutilised species to improve both nutrition and agri-biodiversity.

Wendy works closely with both Scottish and global food producers, as well as the wider food and drink industry to identify new opportunities and was awarded FDF ‘Scientist of the Year’ for this work.

She will be discussing the role of healthy novel crops for food and drink innovation, as well as how to contribute towards Scotland’s climate and biodiversity targets.

• To register for the webinar visit and for more information about the event visit