I couldn’t say that there is one product overall that is a complete star. It’s when you join together several elements that they cohesively make the difference. I believe that if you can save 1% on 100 things, then that’s a 100% improvement!
Location: Scottish Borders
Crops grown: Spring barley, winter barley, winter wheat, potatoes, spring beans, vining peas and oil seed rape
Land managed: 750 acres + 7830 acres contracted
Colin McGregor likes nothing better than to spend quality time with his family. Not many people would argue with that aim. But when you’re at the helm of an award-winning agri-business covering a 15-mile radius from your head office in the Scottish Borders, you can understand that time is at a premium.
Colin’s grandfather started the business in 1927. Since then it has blossomed into a leading large scale arable farming venture which invests heavily in people, machinery, technology and infrastructure.
As befits such a large-scale initiative, the logistics can be complex. In addition to the core family business there are 14 additional businesses, which relates to a further 7830 acres of land that are contracted out. A big operation then and one that jumped on the precision farming bandwagon early.
“I started yield mapping around 1997; I was young and it was the trendy thing to do! Since then we have been on a joint adventure with the help of SoilEssentials, streamlining the business and cutting out waste. Something as simple as having accurate tramlines will reduce inputs by targeting. The saving on lime pays for the sampling service in its own right.”
Colin says he is confident he is saving around 50% on his lime following targeted variable rate application. He also practices variable rate seed drilling making sure the optimum seed is placed in the right places giving a more even distribution of plant stands.
Colin believes that more than ever precision farming is the future for agriculture. He says it’s more affordable now and is no longer the domain of the big businesses, like his.
“There is definite pay back from these systems. Some are slow burners, for example, yield data and spray boom switch-off, but it soon adds up and the savings are there to be had, you just have to pick up the phone!”