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Stackyard News Apr 07

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Launch of Scotland's First Environmental Focus Farm

An SAC project which aims to identify and test the best ways in which farmers can effectively and realistically address NVZ and diffuse pollution issues was launched on 3 April at Mains of Balgavies, Angus (courtesy of farmer Mr Tom Sampson). This new SAC initiative focuses on practical solutions for tackling diffuse pollution in rivers.

This new SAC initiative focuses on practical solutions for tackling diffuse pollution in rivers

Mains of Balgavies is Scotland's First Environmental Focus Farm and will act as a test bed where, in the context of regulatory measures and in a real farming situation, practical solutions to pollution issues can be evaluated.

The Environmental Focus Farm initiative is implemented by SAC as part of its “Success through Knowledge” programme and is supported by SEERAD. Modelled on the highly successful “Monitor Farm” approach the objective of the initiative is to see a significant part of the programme driven by farmer needs and aspirations, with SAC providing technical assistance to meet farmer requirements.

Speaking at the launch, SAC Chief Executive Professor Bill McKelvey said,

“The issues of diffuse pollution and the use of nitrates have caused some much debate and some considerable concern within the farming community. It is vital that our response to new environmental regulations should not only be grounded in good science, but also be practical and acceptable to farmers.

“Practical and economically viable solutions, that are applicable initially within this Priority Catchment, identified by SEPA, will be determined and may thereafter be applicable across other areas in Scotland.

“SAC is grateful to Mr Sampson for his willingness to open up his farm and act as host for this Environmental Focus Farms initiative and to SEERAD for its continued sponsorship.”

Chief Executive of NFUS, Mr Andy Robertson added,

"Ask any farmer today about his main concerns and right up there at the top of the list will be dealing with the burden of regulation. I therefore warmly applaud the initiative shown in setting up this Focus Farm as an alternative means of meeting environmental aims and objectives. Practical measures that are supported by scientific and technical evidence are far more likely to be taken up by farmers than those that are imposed on them by top-down regulation. If farmers believe that what they are doing will really make a difference then the buy-in will be dramatically improved.

"I join in thanking Tom Sampson for allowing this important initiative to be based on his farm and look forward to positive outcomes that will be of benefit to many businesses like his."

Host farmer, Mr Tom Sampson added,

"I hope that by working with SAC over the length of this project, we will identify and evaluate practical ways for farmers to reduce diffuse pollution and benefit the overall sustainability of Scottish agriculture".

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