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Growing Crops on a Small Scale

Growing Crops on a Small Scale for the First Time

In this podcast Derek Hanton of SAC Inverness gives advice to those thinking of growing crops on a small scale for the first time.  Many types of crops are discussed from root crops and those that are combinable.  Some key constraints of working in small fields in marginal areas are discussed.

Starting a Farming Business and Growing Crops for the First Time

Patrick Laurie, Galloway based author of ‘Native’ speaks to Janette Sutherland in Skye about his book.  They discuss his starting a farming business and growing crops for the first time.  A self-confessed Curlew obsessive, Patrick discusses the importance of High Nature Value farming for many of Scotland’s iconic species.

The Oats-So-Simple Brewing Trial

In this podcast we hear from Richie Walsh who organised the Oats So Simple Brewing trail using oats grown on a croft in Lismore.  We discuss his vision of craft ales being a catalyst for supporting small scale heritage cropping in the Crofting counties and beyond and all the benefits to nature and sustainability that could bring.

Uist Machair

High Nature Farming - The Uist Machair

In this podcast Jamie Boyle  (centre in the photo) introduces us to the wonders of the Uist machair, an excellent example of High Nature Value farming.  We learn about how integral crofting through growing crops and grazing cattle are essential for the habitats that host some of the highest densities of waders in western Europe.

Crofting & the Uist Machair

Cultivations will be underway soon on the Uist machair, growing crops and managing the land for high biodiversity. This lovely video explains how and why traditional crops are grown in a two year cycle.

Small Scale Seed Saving on the Uist Machair

Small scale cropping is thriving on the machairs of Uist. A key element of the system is the use of traditional indigenous varieties of seed that are uniquely suited to growing in the challenging conditions on the fringes of the Atlantic. The sustainability of the system is reliant on being able to save a portion of this year’s crop for onward planting. This video will look at how that is carried out.


John Williamson bought the croft of 14 Veensgarth roughly two years ago. Compared to his previous crops this croft had a greater area of potential arable land. When the opportunity came up to buy an old but serviceable combine harvester, he decided he would like to try growing some barley. John had a soil sample analysed by SAC. The pH was fine for barley just needing a maintenance dressing of 2.5t/ha which it received. Both the P&K were both low. Nitrogen application was modest at under 70kg N/ha but plenty of P&K was applied. The crop was Propino barley which was broadcast after ploughing and harrowing and rolled in after a light harrow. No herbicide or fungicide was applied. The yield was measured as a total of 9.5 tonnes at 23% moisture with propionic acid used to preserve the grain. The 9.5t @ 23% equates to 8.6t @15% moisture giving an estimated yield of 5.4t/ha (2.2t/acre). This is an excellent yield given the modest level of inputs applied. The cost of barley is high in Shetland due to shipping so the grain can be valued at around £175/t. To ensure the straw could be kept in good condition the bales were wrapped and a total 20 bales were secured worth roughly £40 per bale in Shetland. So overall the output has a value of around £2,400 with relatively modest costs of around £1000 for the seed, fertiliser, propcorn and plastic wrap leaving a healthy margin of over £800/ha to cover time and machinery costs.

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