Agriculture is a fundamental part of Scotland’s economy and modern farming activities can have a profound effect on our landscape, communities, and diversity of landscape, writes Adam Christie, Managing Director at Scottish Agronomy in a recent blog post on the farmer-owned cooperative’s website.
Mr. Christie goes on to say that “creating a sustainable agriculture business is growing in importance from both a social and economic context, and can be defined as one which avoids the depletion of natural resources, supports a healthy society, and remains financially viable for the long term.
“For many farmers, the hike in fertiliser prices recently has focused attention on finding suitable alternatives to deliver commercially viable yields. According to the National Farmers’ Union, fertiliser prices have risen by 300% year-on-year, from around £250 a tonne to £600-£1000 a tonne, depending on product, leaving farmers in an increasingly difficult position. It can now take three times as many tonnes of wheat to pay for the required ammonium nitrate as it did as recently as 2020!”
Adam Christie points out that research at Scottish Agronomy has been driven by this desire to maximise production in a prudent manner whilst protecting Scotland’s unique environment.
“Drawing on many long-term agronomy experiments, such as the 167 year Broadbalk experiment at Rothamsted, we can conclude that sequestration of carbon in an arable rotation is challenging,” he says. “These invaluable long-term experiments show that an arable rotation reduced the soil’s ability to store carbon, compared to the pre-agriculture “wilderness” state.”
With the pressure of feeding the eight billion mouths now on the planet, up from three billion as recently as 1960, “the difficulty is going to be finding the balance between saving the planet and feeding the world,” Mr. Christie says.