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Climate Change Focus Farm: Stewart Tower Farm

30 March 2024

This article originally appeared on the Farming For A Better Climate website

Stewart Tower was one of our first four Climate Change Focus Farms and participated in the project from 2010 to 2013.

Run by Neil and Linsey Butler, Stewart Tower is a mixed dairy and arable farm covering 160 ha near Stanley, Perthshire.

Both wheat and barley are grown for feed with some malting barley plus grass silage. The farm also has a thriving ice cream business including an ice cream parlour within the farm shop.

Neil and Linsey followed a slightly different format to the other Climate Change Focus Farmers by hosting on farm events for visitors to Stewart Tower rather than the programme of farmer meetings.

With around 30,000 to 40,000 visitors a year to Stewart Tower, it offered an excellent way to highlight to visitors the steps that Scottish agriculture is taking to reduce emissions. A range of information about Farming for a Better Climate was displayed in the farm shop, both on a notice board and as information leaflets. Display material contained information about climate change and agriculture, steps to reduce the farm carbon footprint and information on the other Climate Change Focus Farms and the steps they were considering.

Neil and Linsey also held a number of farm events to highlight measures farmers were taking and how customers could adapt some of the ideas for use at home.

What were the key findings from Stewart Tower?

Neil and Linsey made some key changes over the period of the project in addition to hosting events for visitors to Stewart Tower.  With help from facilitator Sinclair Simpson, Neil and Linsey were able to reassess some routine practices which saved them around £10,000 per year. Steps included:

  • Improving their fertiliser and dung policy
  • Improving grassland management
  • Tailoring fungicide sprays to arable crops
  • Choosing disease resistant crop varieties
  • Better use of electricity
  • Installation of a 100kW wind turbine

Did Neil and Linsey find the programme useful?

Neil said: “We were already focusing on some of the areas that have been brought up in the project, for example we have a carbon footprint as part of our milk contract with Sainsbury’s. The initiative helped us to build on this and look at other areas where we could make a change. For example using less fertiliser and increasing clover in grass has had a benefit and is something that everyone can consider and adapt depending on their individual circumstances. One of the things that comes out of these projects is that the cumulative benefits add up, not only for the individual farm but if all farmers were to take up similar measures, could show a significant reduction in the carbon footprint for agriculture across Scotland.”

Farm Facilitator Sinclair Simpson said: “You need a proper understanding of what’s going on on your farm, and how best to work with what you have, so planning ahead to minimise potential losses from uncharacteristic weather as a result of climate change is important. Efficient farming systems have less impact on the environment, are better for business and can help us work towards our greenhouse gas reduction targets”.

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