Frank O’Donnell: Innovation is vital for Scottish farming

There is no doubt that Scotland’s farming sector faces unprecedented challenges. But with these threats, be they from Brexit or climate change, comes the opportunity to innovate.

Picture: DroneAG
Picture: DroneAG

We have no option but to harness the power of technology and new thinking to create a different outlook for farming, which is so crucial to Scotland’s economy.

The Scotsman has long championed the people who work in the sector in our business pages and beyond. The country’s farmers, crofters and growers produce output worth around £2.9 billion a year, and are responsible for much of Scotland’s £5bn worth of food and drink exports.

But Brexit looms large on the horizon, and once the dust settles on our departure from the European Union, as Andrew Arbuckle argues in this edition, the country’s farmers will likely be worse off.

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    Michael Haverty of farming consultants Andersons estimates that there could be an annual drop in income of £850 million as far as UK agriculture is concerned in the event of a no-deal exit.

    In the aftermath of Brexit, Scotland’s farming and food industry must fight to preserve the country’s hard-fought culinary reputation. This means resisting any decline in our food standards from trade deals with nations who allow controversial food production methods such as the now infamous chlorinated chicken.

    In this Rural Affairs Issue of Vision, we
also look at how soil quality is linked to global warming and the environmental benefits that can be gained from vertical farming.

    David Farquhar of Intelligent Growth Solutions, in his column on Page 30, outlines a farming world where the precise conditions for growing crops can be achieved in a controlled environment.

    It is encouraging to learn that his firm holds a patent advantage in this sector and are looking to expand globally.

    This edition also looks at how farmers are building up resilience through diversification, and the role of women in driving forward this change.

    Despite uncertain times, Scotland’s farming community is showing the resilience that it is renowned for in abundance.

    Frank O’Donnell, editorial director of The Scotsman.

    This article first appeared in The Scotsman’s autumn edition of Vision. A digital version can be found here.