AGRISCOT unveiled Rhynie Farm in Easter Ross, run by Donald Ross, as their Scottish Arable Farm of the Year.

Fifth generation farmer Mr Ross was commended for his detailed understanding of his costs, his passion for collaboration and his zeal for soil health, as well as his constant drive to improve his business.

The competition, supported by AHDB and sponsored by SoilEssentials, aims to highlight best practice, and demonstrate the benefits of adopting new tools and techniques to drive the industry forward.

Donald runs a mixed arable, beef and sheep unit. He grows approximately 50 hectares of winter wheat for animal, fish feed and distilling, another 50 hectares is devoted spring barley for malting, with 22 hectares for oilseed rape and 17 hectares given over to spring oats for feed and milling.

The two other finalists in the category were Learielaw Farm in West Lothian, owned and managed by Walter Dandie and Sons and Sweethope Farm near Kelso, family owned and managed by David Fuller-Shapcott.

Peter Chapman, whose Aberdeenshire farm was awarded the Scottish Arable Farm of the Year accolade last year, assessed the competition, alongside fellow farmer, and past AgriScot chair, Andrew Moir.

Peter said: “We had three fantastic finalists who all would have been worthy recipients so deciding who would receive the award was no easy task.

“We were incredibly impressed with Donald; not only is he a very capable farmer, he’s also very much a cooperative, working closely with Scottish Agronomy and Highland Grain.

“He pushes himself to improve, has a good handle on his costs through benchmarking which helps him to keep his costs down without any detrimental impact on his yield or business. He’s also a tremendous ambassador for the industry, both locally and nationally."

For co-judge Andrew, Donald’s commitment to soil health stood out.

Andrews said: “Donald clearly has a passion for soil and regards this as his greatest asset. One of his aims is to leave the soil in a better condition than when he took the farm on.

“He has also focused on integrating the arable with the livestock to create a sustainable rotation allied to a sensitivity for the environment and biodiversity.”

Donald himself was delighted to receive the award, saying: “I’m absolutely delighted to win this award, especially amongst such stiff competition. My father has always been a strong influence on me, so I’d like to thank him, and all my family for their support, I could never have won this award on my own.”