New Scottish Strategic Potato Farm

Bruce Farms, the multi-facetted Perthshire based agricultural business, has been announced as the host for a new project which aims to be of benefit to all of Scotland’s potato growers.

Bruce Farms, based at Meigle in Perthshire will facilitate the new AHDB Strategic Potato Farm project. The SPot Farm, as it will be known, is a practical, farmer-driven project which aims to give growers the opportunity to examine and discuss new techniques and research.

Potato Harvesting

Potato Harvesting
© Copyright James T M Towill
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Claire Hodge, Edinburgh based Knowledge Transfer Manager at AHDB Potatoes explained more about this new initiative:

“Back in February we were delighted to be able to announce, alongside the Scottish Government, joint funding to bring our SPot Farm initiative to Scotland.”

“The search was then on to find a suitable farm. We can now announce that Bruce Farms has agreed to host the project located, where we believe, should be accessible and relevant to all Scottish potato growers.”

“The SPot Farm project in Scotland will run for 3 growing seasons (2017, 18 and 19), with a series of open-days, farm-walks and tailored group visits in each. Scottish growers will have the opportunity to engage with the project and help shape the development ideas and techniques over these 3 seasons.”

“Being ahead of schedule, there will be a ‘soft launch’ in the 2016 season where the SPot Farm will host a 24Ha (60acre) field of Maris Piper. Our initial focus will be a simple comparison of different primary and secondary cultivation techniques (bed tilling and stone separating) across the field with the help of precision farming data. Further subjects for examination will naturally arise for the forthcoming 3 seasons proper, as the project progresses and we hear the input of growers.”

“Like the highly successful monitor farm project, the real value lies in stimulating discussion. Bruce Farms are an exciting business to work with because of their commitment to improving systems and processes and their drive for quality, yield and optimum returns from their potato enterprise.”

“We look forward to our first SPot Farm open day at Bruce Farms on 12 July, 2016, at which all levy payers and other interested parties will be very welcome.”

Bruce Farms are one of the bigger potato growers in Scotland, growing over 270Ha (670 acres) every year, alongside cereals, blackcurrants, soft fruit, peas, beans and a pedigree cattle enterprise.

Kerr Howatson, Potato Manager for Bruce Farms commented on the SPot initiative:
“We aim to be forward thinking and to produce the best commercial potato crops that we possibly can on our own and rented ground across Perthshire and the Borders.”

“I look forward to hosting the SPot meetings here at Bruce Farms. It will be an extremely interesting opportunity to apply science to our commercial decision making process, challenge conventional working practices and bridge the gap between proven research and farm practice.”

“I am sure that the project will be of benefit to us as hosts and also to our potato farming colleagues across Scotland.”

AHDB ‘SPot Farms’ are a knowledge exchange concept designed to demonstrate in a practical and commercial environment the benefits of AHDB funded research and development and launched in 2015. The three AHDB SPot farms now established are: Bruce Farms, Perthshire; WB Daw & Son, Staffordshire; and Eleveden Farms in West Suffolk.

AHDB Potatoes

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