Abercrombie Farm

15 March 2024

Abercrombie is a 325 acre tenanted farm on Balcaskie Estate. The farm is family run which means there are not many days off and wintertime is no exception, it is business as usual.

 In the winter months we winter cattle in the sheds, they require feeding twice every day and a fresh straw bed to lie on. Over time the farm yard manure (FYM) builds up, which require the sheds to be emptied. This week has seen the cattle sheds being ‘mucked out’ where the cattle are taken out from their pen to allow the FYM to be removed. The cattle are mucked out a few times as the cattle are on the farm from October to April, weather depending. The FYM is taken to the fields and built into a heap which is left to rot for 10 months then will be spread onto the land as a natural fertiliser. It is also a way of returning the straw back to the land in a different form. Last year’s FYM will be spread on to the field in the next few weeks once the weather dries up, it will be ploughed in preparation for potatoes to be planted later in the spring.

On the farm we grow potatoes and cereal crops such as wheat, barley & oil seed rape. We store the commodities in the sheds and they go away throughout the year. The potatoes are kept in a refrigerated shed to keep them at their best from harvest in October all the way through till April. Last week we had 4 lorry loads of potatoes leave the farm and another 5 loads this week. The potatoes are loaded in our wooden boxes onto the lorry and driven 28 miles to be graded and packed ready to go to the supermarkets. Each load of potatoes that leaves the farm requires a passport detailing the harvest date, field and the grower so they can be traced back to the farm they were grown, they also put the growers name and variety on the bag which goes to the supermarket.

While the weather has not been very spring like we have made the most of this time by investigating field drains. Drainage in fields is very important for ensuring the crop in the field has the right growing conditions and also helps look after the soil health. Drains lie under the soil, taking away excess water which the soil is not able to hold. To access the drains we hired a contractor to dig a few feet under the surface to find the drains. We have a map of where the drains run underground so it is just a case of digging in the right spot, it can take a few attempts to find them.

Once the drains have been opened we are checking to see if they are running and empty of silt, this is not always the case. If the drain is chocked you have usually found the problem to why there is excess water on the surface of the field. To clear the drains we use draining rods to unblock the pipes then use a drain jetter to spray water up the drain to wash out the silt and to clear it. This is a physical job however it is very satisfying to see clean water flowing freely down the drain and it should also help reduce future flooding on the surface.

We are very lucky to have such a great views from the farm.


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