ADOPTING ECOLOGICAL management practices on farm could increase farmers profits by 7% according to new research carried out by Scotland’s Rural College.

Economic assessments of four different ecological practices on Scottish livestock farms were carried out using farm level data collected from 31 farms, between January and March 2020.

The researchers found that setting aside an ecological area on agricultural land and reducing farm inputs – both of which they said could be easily adopted by farmers – offered potential financial benefits of up to a 75% increase in profits.

However, the SRUC team pointed out that changing from a conventional to an organic farming system and setting aside agricultural land to plant trees required capital investment, making them a more challenging prospect for adoption by livestock farmers without provision of financial support.

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SRUC economist Shailesh Shrestha said: “The Scottish Government has put forward a long-term Climate Change Plan to achieve a cleaner, greener and healthier Scotland by 2032. Adaptation of agro-ecological management practices by farmers is a potential approach to support these plans. However, a critical issue is the economic impact of adoption of these practices.

“Our research provided a snapshot of the economic impacts of a number of ecological management practices and economic challenges farmers face in adopting those practices on farms," she said.

“However, a better understanding of the economic feasibility of these agro-ecological management practices would be very useful in maximising the uptake of these management practices by the Scottish farming community.”