SCOTTISH FARMING'S locked-down winter calendar is to retain two of its most keenly fought competitions – the AgriScot Product Innovation Award and the AgriScot Silage Competition.

Both are now open for entries, with the unveiling of the winners planned as a key attraction on Agr-e-Scot day, the Wednesday November 18 online event that will this year stand in place of the live AgriScot at Ingliston.

AgriScot chairman Robert Neill explained: “Everything is coming together for the online events we plan to stage on November 18. We cannot fully replicate a live, face-to-face AgriScot, but we are confident that our virtual version – unofficially christened Agr-e-Scot – will have something to interest everyone.

“AgriScot is all about showcasing best practice and forward thinking, and this is certainly the ethos behind our Product Innovation Award and also our Silage Competition. It is great, therefore, to announce that we are going to stage both of these competitions for 2020.”

Traditionally, only AgriScot tradestand exhibitors are invited to enter their latest machine, livestock product or piece of software for an Innovation Award, but for 2020, the net is being cast wider and any business with an eligible entry is welcome.

There are two broad categories for the award – ‘Animal Health and Husbandry’ and ‘Machinery and Equipment’. Entries must have been introduced to the market since AgriScot 2019 and will be judged based on a submitted video clip which either explains the service or shows the product in action.

From that, ten entries will be shortlisted for judging, and thereafter the views of two users or owners of the product entered will be sought and considered by the judges. Vouchers for advertising in The Scottish Farmer will be awarded to the winner and runner up.

The 2019 Product Innovation Award winner was a software package, CLARIFIDE PLUS, aimed at predicting the future health and profitability of dairy heifers and thus aiding selection. Sticking with the dairy theme, 2018 saw the award go to Deosan Triathlon, a 100% natural teat disinfectant – but the organisers are keen to stress that entries are welcome from all farming sectors.

The AgriScot Silage Competition is once again sponsored by Watson Seeds Ltd, providing a prize value of over £5000. The competition has classes for 'beef/sheep' and 'dairy' clamp silages and also big bale silage. Entries can be from any cut of silage. There is also a special young farmers class for producers under 26 years of age to enter any pit silage.

Organiser Andrew Best, from Watson Seeds, commented: “The weather has been consistently inconsistent over the main grass growing and silage making months of 2020. Springtime warmth and sunshine led to significant grass growth on heavier soils with higher moisture contents, but lighter soils and drier areas suffered. In contrast, the latter part of the season, particularly July and August brought wet weather challenges.

“I guess that silage quality, and indeed quantity, is likely to be extremely varied across the country and indeed even across the different cuts taken on the same farm. With the likelihood of such variability in clamps and bale stacks, the importance of having silage analysed is clear," said Mr Best.

“With an analysis report in front of you, it is not only easier to work out winter feeding requirements and rations, but it is also easy to enter our silage competition – simply by emailing the report to me!”

These reports will be ranked in anonymous order by long-standing expert judge, Hugh McClymont, with the top silages in each category going forward to be judged as a live sample in a special broadcast from the online AgriScot.