The sudden death of Douglas Morrison at the end of September was a blow, ending the life of a charming and intelligent man, liked and respected by farming colleagues and the wider community.

Doug, or Dougie, farmed at Amisfield, near Haddington, in his own, personal and innovative style. Beyond his farming career he made a significant contribution to Scottish agriculture through his co-operative farming involvements, his roles in the NFU Scotland (NFUS), as a director of the Home-Grown Cereal Authority (HGCA) and as a pivotal chairman of Scottish Quality Cereals (SQC).

Doug was born in March, 1946, at Amisfield Mains. His father, an energetic farmer and contractor, was tragically killed in an accident in his light plane in 1947.

He attended Loretto School, where he probably did well if the subject stimulated his interest. Doug was not a person to talk about himself or his past, unless it involved an anecdote relating to some mechanical challenge undertaken. We can imagine him in his early years dismantling things, to see how they worked.

Following a happy season as a teenage assistant at AM Russell and Co Agricultural Engineers, in Haddington, assembling Claas combines, he attended the Edinburgh College of Agriculture, achieving a NDA.

Arriving back to Amisfield, he discovered a substantial overdraft and his bank manager encouraged him join SAI’s farm costing service, which showed him which of the enterprises were leaving a margin. The sheep were removed from the Grade 2 south-facing land, the beef cows following them only a little later.

An unsurprising decision given Doug’s mechanical bent and crop production skills – he loved his animals but not as producer. With a sound grounding in farm business management his business prospered, the good potato years of 1975 and ’76 more than putting the business on its feet.

He developed as a potato grower and wholesaler, as well as being a cereal producer. He was a founder member of the East Lothian vining pea group, as well as Lothian Cereals, a co-operative grain storage venture based at Leith General Warehouse. These involved difficulties and setbacks – the lessons learnt standing him in good stead in future roles.

In 1970, he married Beverley Cameron, who he had known since childhood. To his great sadness, after more than 50 years together, Beverley died in April of this year, after a few months of illness.

Doug was always interested in technology and open to new techniques. He was competent with a spreadsheet before most people were aware of them and shared ownership with neighbours of the revolutionary Whitsed potato harvester and an early large square baler.

An early user of liquid fertiliser on potatoes and cereals, he built his own liquid fertiliser manufacturing plant and guided many as to how it was done. He was an early adopter of non-inversion and reduced cultivation, creating some comment at the time, but which is now a current technique.

With his mechanical ability, he was never frightened to run a machine for many years longer than the norm; his costings indicating the burden of depreciation of new machinery. His knowledge meant that when farm pesticide sprayer operator training and certification became mandatory in 1988 he was one of the few available to undertake the roles of trainer and examiner.

In 1985, he and neighbours, Willie Kerr and Andrew Henderson, established an East Lothian agronomy group. Huw Philips, founding CEO of Scottish Agronomy, mentored the group to develop agronomy skills and to value farmer-funded advice separate from commercial interest.

Arising from this group was the formation, in 1989, of Agricultural Management Haddington (AMH). Doug, along with Willie Kerr, Jimmy Clark and Will Jackson established the company to provide a farming service for those that wish to own land but not farm it, but still retain vacant possession.

The business expanded to a peak in 2009 when it was farming for 16 different landowners. Doug was a director of AMH and subsequently served as a director of Greenshieldsagri after it took over AMH in 2015, finally retiring in 2019.

In 1991, as chairman of the East Lothian NFU, Doug was invited to be national convenor of the NFUS Cereal committee where he was liked, and respected. He was subsequently appointed a director of HGCA and represented Scottish farming interests in the formation of Scottish Quality Cereals Assurance Scheme.

There the many skills and experience that he had acquired came to the fore, particularly as chairman. Many farmers resented what they perceived as an unnecessary intrusion, but Doug had the foresight to see that farmers must be involved, or conditions would be imposed by other interests. His hands-on knowledge of farm practice, insight and pragmatic approach allowed him to achieve workable outcomes.

In 2002, he was awarded the East Lothian NFUS 2000 Award. A fitting tribute to a modest man who undertook substantial work for the benefit of the wider farming community.

Doug was an elder of St Mary’s, Haddington, and he and Bev moved to live in Gifford in 2010, a community which they much enjoyed. As tenant of Amisfield Mains, and with no farming successors, he was willing to negotiate with his landlord, Wemyss and March Estates to relinquish his tenancy finishing, what turned out to be his final farming year, with a fruitful harvest completed only some weeks ago.

Doug is survived by his children Emma, Tony and Victoria and six grandchildren.