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An Introduction to Kirkton Farm

Kirkton Farm is the main farming unit for an all arable enterprise run by I & N Campbell (a family-run farming business run by Scott Campbell, his father (Ian) and uncle (Neil)).

Scott has just recently won the Farmers Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year competition, based on the improvements he has made to the farm over the last few years, which have improved yields and overall farm profitability.  This provides an ideal platform to highlight the importance of soil management as part of the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service Soil Nutrient Network.

Kirkton extends to 146ha and is one of four farms managed by I & N Campbell in Aberdeenshire, extending to a total of over 490ha (mostly owned land).  The business runs a mixture of spring and winter cereals, as well as oilseed rape, and lets land for potatoes.

The introduction of an agri-environment scheme (AECS) in 2016 has also helped to boost the environmental credentials for the business, and provide a diversity of habitat around the farms, e.g. wild bird seed plots, grass margins, overwinter stubbles and the introduction of approximately 20ha of green manures into the rotation.

This has enabled the farm to utilise buffer strips profitably and help to extend the rotation between crops, minimizing the risk of soil-borne diseases e.g. clubroot in oilseed rape.

The 2019 cropping for the business is detailed below, to show approximate areas for cropping.

Table 1. Approximated areas of crop choices at Kirkton Farm during 2019.

CropArea (ha)
Malting Spring Barley250
Winter Barley50
Winter Wheat80
Winter Oilseed Rape27
Potato Lets15
Green Manures20
Temporary Grass8
Permanent Grass1
Other Areas (e.g. AECS)13

The main soil type at Kirkton is a mixture of Countesswells Association, Countesswells series soil, and Boyndie Association, Boyndie series soil, both of which are freely draining, and have a land capability class of 31, and 32.

With there being no livestock enterprise on the farm, the business operates several "straw-for-muck" deals with local farmers to ensure that the organic matter of the soil is maintained.  The recent purchase of a Horsch seed drill and Terrano cultivator has also enabled the farm to start some minimum tillage cultivation, and differences between ploughed and min till fields will be able to be seen during the period the farm is hosting the Soil Nutrient Network meetings.

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