Edinburgh Real Results Roadshow Blog
At the final BASF Real Results Roadshow, in Edinburgh, a room of almost 100 growers heard from Aberdeenshire farmer, Andrew Booth, how a drive to innovate and diversify are what keeps his business moving forward.
The Booths are based at Savock Farms, near Ellon where they grow arable, energy and value-added crops. In addition to this they also undertake contract farming and have commercial property and renewables on their land.
Originally mixed farmers, for 20 years they retailed Aberdeen Angus beef through their farm shop as well as supplying Waitrose, The Co-op and catering at festivals.
During that time the business was chosen to be the Aberdeenshire Monitor Farm. Andrew said, “We wanted the focus to be back on the farm and this three-year project was a good vehicle to do just that. I really enjoyed our experience, the legacy of which is the benchmarking group that has been of huge benefit and a big part of our journey to where we are today. It is absolutely essential to understand your costs, as this should underpin all decisions.”
Six years ago, the decision was made to change the outlook of the farm and become less reliant on subsidies. At that time the business was 25% reliant on subsidies and now it is under 5%.
The business took on more contract farming opportunities and grew their land bank which then allowed the next step to be made: the anaerobic digestion (AD) project. “We are the feedstock supplier and the landlord to a 2.5 MW AD plant. They are not the silver bullet; we are 3 years into a project, and we are having challenges. However, for our farming set up it fits perfectly within our rotations and enterprises.
It allows us to be less dependent on low gross margin crops like winter barley and having rye in the rotation allows us to prep land and get winter oilseed rape established in the short weather window we have in Aberdeenshire. We can also get the soils into better heart by spreading the digestate back on the land.”
The land is quite heavy in some places, with mainly clay soils. Historically there have been different farming systems within the land the Booths are contract farming, and this has brought challenges “pH and organic matter levels vary hugely. Traditionally we are a plough and power harrow team up in Aberdeenshire and with the digestate, and the other crops we are able to grow, it does allow us to be. I may want to be the roots not iron type of guy, but I still have a customer to deliver to, they expect a return at the end of the day.”
The business’ latest diversification is their Gluten Free Oat Project. In 2016, in partnership with another family, they began building a brand-new gluten free oat processing plant, which when completed will be fully automated and filled with innovative technology. Andrew said, “We have grown gluten free oats for some time. It is a value-added commodity, we have always had this attitude of value adding everything we do and so processing the oats ourselves was the logical next step.
We are part of the pioneering blockchain assurance with SAC, where a QR code on the product, that the customer scans with their phone, will lead to a portal giving all the information about the crop. This is really exciting, an offering that no other oat producer, let alone cereal producer can offer today.
Going forward the industry faces many challenges but there are opportunities galore.”
Andrew’s desire for innovation, led to him undertaking a trial of Revystar® XE in partnership with BASF, on his winter wheat crop last year. “Early access to new chemistry is very important and we were keen to see what Revystar® XE was all about.
The trial was in a field of September drilled LG Skyscraper, after oilseed rape. Comparing the farm standard of Chord® at T1 and Proline at T2 (1.4 l/ha and 0.6 l/ha respectively) with Revystar® XE (1 l/ha and 1.25 l/ha respectively).
CTL was added to both the farm standard and the Revystar® XE spray timings. Andrew said, “From the end of June there were treatment differences visible from NDVI images with a noticeable difference in the retention of green leaf on the Revystar® XE treated strips.”
ADAS analysis showed the yield benefit of using Revystar® XE was 1.05 t/ha above farm standard. Andrew said, “We had a phenomenal year last year, normally in Aberdeenshire if we are hitting 9 – 10 t/ha we are doing well, but the farm standard yielded 11.14 t/ha, the yield benefit of using Revystar® XE in these trials was 9%. That was a pretty strong response.”
Key take home points
Benchmarking gives confidence in decision making
Add value wherever possible
Revystar® XE gave longer green leaf retention and a yield increase of 9% above the farm standard
Read more articles about Revystar® XE in January’s edition of CPM here.
Revystar® XE and Revysol® are registered Trade Marks of BASF. Revystar® XE contains Revysol® and Xemium®. Revysol® contains mefentrifluconazole. Xemium® contains fluxapyroxad. Always read the label and product information before use. For further product information including warning phrases and symbols, you can refer to https://www.agricentre.basf.co.uk/en