Farming has shaped Scotland’s landscape, and diet since the Iron Age. From those first ploughed furrows, today’s farmers are diversifying. They are looking to work with nature, adapt to the challenges of climate change, and ensure a long-term, sustainable future for our land.
A fresh look at the land
Scotland’s farmers are looking at new ways to ensure all-year-round income streams, hedge against political and climate instabilities, and to ensure that they pass on sustainable and healthy rural businesses to future generations.
From extending field margins and restoring hedging, to cutting back on fertiliser and herbicide use, farms and farmers are doing their bit.
Pull on your boots and overalls, and let’s see how some Scottish farmers are adapting to those changes.
Agents of change
The Scottish Wildlife Trust and National Framers’ Union Scotland are already working together to address the global climate and biodiversity crises. That means encouraging more efficient use of fertilisers, the Scottish Government’s support through Preparing for Sustainable Farming is helping by providing support for carbon audits and soil testing. They are working to assess and improve soil health and coordinating action to re-naturalise rivers and create new woodland. Finally. they are tackling invasive non-native species on a large scale.
Organic livestock farmer and Scottish Wildlife Trust Council member Carey Coombs said: “As an industry, we are increasingly aware just how much farming relies on the resources provided by nature. As the vast majority of Scotland is managed for agriculture our industry has an almost unparalleled ability to support positive environmental change.
“Unlocking this potential could create great rewards, both for wildlife and for people.”
That's the spirit!
In rural Angus, in Scotland’s northeast, the Stirling brothers - John, Iain, and David – decided to add value to their cereal crops by creating the Arbikie Distillery. Using rye, wheat and barley to make their Highland Rye Whiskies, they produced first Rye Scotch in Scotland in over one hundred years.
Since then, they have further diversified into gin and vodka production. They created Nadar, Gaelic for nature, using their farm-grown peas to create the world’s first climate-positive spirits.
Their innovation doesn’t stop there. They also use their own farm-grown botanicals, and farm-made honey as flavourings. The nutrient-rich by-products even get turned back into animal feed.
Today, as well as marketing their award-winning spirits around the world, they run popular farm/distillery tours.
Visit Arbikie's website to follow their story.
Cream of the crop
In 2015, when Bryce Cunningham took over the dairy herd at Mossgiel Farm, in Ayrshire, he faced a dilemma. With the mega-dairies paying just 15p a litre for their milk, the farm was losing £10k a year.
He decided to add value by going organic.
Having reintroduced farm-to-doorstep deliveries, in reusable glass bottles he has built up a successful wholesale business. His batch-pasteurised, non-standardised, all-organic milk has proved a huge hit with restaurants and coffee shops – and even the introduction of fresh milk vending machines.
Bryce’s business, Mossgiel Organic Farm - is booming.
Elsewhere across Scotland, innovative farmers are using oats – Scotland’s traditional cereal crop – to produce a range of healthy, vegan oat milk products.
Back to the land
Scotland's agriculture sector is full of exciting new developments that you can be a part of. Find out more about these and other business opportunities at Invest and Trade Scotland - Scottish Development International (sdi.co.uk)