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Everyone’s a winner: how looking after the environment can help your business

Making the most of AECS

Farming and the environment: they can both be winners. We’re going to be doing a few more meetings this year. We’re doing a new bit of work that focuses on sustainability win-wins: things that are good for the bottom line as well as for the wider environment. This will be partly funded by and delivered in collaboration with RSPB Scotland and Scottish Water. 

This coincides with the announcement that the latest round of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) is open for applications, with a closing date of March 31st. Opportunities for funding include organic farming options, as well as a wide range of other agri-environmental options, including hedges and green manures.

To explore the benefits, as well as the potential management challenges, of some of these options available for funding, we will be holding a practical on-farm event: AECS and Pains – Getting to Grips with Agri-Environment Schemes on Thursday 9th March. This practical event will look at ‘win-win’ situations for farmers, where agri-environmental management can benefit both wildlife and the finances of the farm business. We will also look at some of the practicalities and challenges associated with managing land under an AECS scheme, some of which must be detailed in an AECS application. Which options might suit your farm, how practical are they to implement, and how could it benefit your business?

We’re also looking for a demonstration farm(s), to measure changes with agri-environmental management – importantly for us these changes include economic benefits (higher yields from more pollinators or natural pest predators) as well as environmental benefits (more biodiversity). Changes in management could be as part of an AECS scheme, a greening measure, or just from a desire to do something different. We’re teaming up with researchers from SRUC to identify where agri-environmental management can both benefit wildlife, and boost production, and I’m really interested to see which options have the most positive impact.
We are going to hold more meetings, and are thinking about looking at:

  • Sustainable weed and pest control (e.g. rush & bracken control, managing slugs)
  • Animal health planning (e.g. managing for fluke & worms)
  • Crop rotation and the potential of clover leys
  • Green manures and cover crops

 Anyone interested in being a demonstration farm or hosting an event should get in touch with David Michie: email dmichie@soilassociation.org or call 0131 666 2474.