Smallholding Scotland 2016 Conference – presentations

Thank you to all who came to Smallholding Scotland 2016 and helped to make it a fantastic day of smallholding goodness. Great speakers, excellent, engaged delegates asking lots of interesting questions, sharing experiences and meeting friends new and old, and a fantastic venue.

Here are the presentations from the day in PDF format, and the speakers’ contact details – for those of you who were unable to join us on the day we hope they prove useful.

See you at the Scottish Smallholder Festival in September!

9:30 – Improving biodiversity with wildflower meadows – Dallas Seawright, Grassland Management Specialist

This session will cover establishing a wildflower meadow, meadow management, what a wildflower meadow will attract & how that will positively impact on the smallholding. It will also consider the compatibility of wildflower meadows with grazing livestock.

Dallas’s involvement with grasslands extends back many years, providing training courses on grass ID and grassland management. His main focus has been at Lochore, bringing abandoned and rank sites back from the brink and transforming areas from amenity grassland into meadows with anything up to 35 species in a square metre. In the course of this he’s chased Shetland sheep, driven tractors older than himself, walked twenty miles a day behind a pedestrian Aebi alpine mower and still been throwing bales onto a trailer in the dark!

Improving biodiversity with wildflower meadows – PDF, 3.3MB

10:45 – Livestock feed from hydroponics – Geof Burnet-Smith

Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil, either in a nutrient solution or on inert matter, feeding the plants with a nutrient solution.

We produce our animal feed without an inert matter base and without nutrients. This enables the “biscuits” of feed produced to be fed entirely to the livestock. No nutrient is required in the water as the entire growing cycle is 6 days and in this time the seed goes from seed to feeding out stage using the nutrient of the seed only.

The rational behind the hydroponic growth is to be able to produce a consistent feed, day in day out, no matter what season, rain, hail or shine. The grower has absolute control over what has been fed or sprayed onto the feed, improving control and resulting in straightforward compliance with regulations and notification to the relevant authorities.

Livestock feed from hydroponics – PDF, 1.8MB

11:35 – Preventing and treating lameness in sheep – Caroline Robinson, SRUC

Have you received conflicting advice about foot care in sheep? Unsure about how best to deal with a lame animal in the first instance?

The information available on foot care can be confusing, and lameness can cost you a great deal in lost production (and vet bills!) – as well as being a welfare problem. Today we will take you through the reasons that a sheep could be lame, the various treatment strategies available and, most importantly, the updated advice on how to keep your flock’s feet in good condition. Plus, tips on spotting problems before they start, and how to avoid bringing footrot onto your farm with your next purchases – vital knowledge for those of you who don’t have a lameness problem, as well as those who do!

Preventing and treating lameness in sheep – PDF, 2.9MB

13:30 – Selling and marketing online – Dan Champion, Champion IS

It’s not unusual for smallholdings to generate income by selling a range of goods and services – holiday accommodation, courses, meat, craft, produce, hatching eggs and more. If your potential market extends beyond than your road-end it can be hard to know how to market what you sell, especially if it generates a limited income.

The internet provides a massive potential market for any business, but the choices can seem endless, range in cost from free to thousands of pounds, and can be hard to match to your business needs.

In this session we’ll look at the pros and cons of several popular options for marketing and selling online, from Facebook to your own full-blown e-commerce website, and identifying some of the issues you need to consider before deciding which route to take.

Selling and marketing online – PDF, 3.2MB

14:20 – Alternative feeding for pigs – David Michie, Soil Association

In this session David Michie will describe Soil Association Scotland’s Feeding Silage to Pigs field lab, and report on the lab’s progress and results to date. The Feeding Silage to Pigs field lab is running from 2014-2016, and is investigating if including silage in pig rations can:

  • Reduce production costs (in order to improve financial resilience)
  • Improve gut health (in order to improve animal welfare)
  • Reduce the reliance on soya as a source of protein (in order to reduce the environmental impacts associated with soya production)

Alternative feeding for pigs – PDF, 1.8MB

15:30 – Abundant Scotland – Graham Bell, Permaculture Scotland

Over the past 40 years, Graham Bell has amassed a huge amount of knowledge in permaculture, renewables and sustainable business. Unsurprisingly, Graham is frequently asked for advice, which, in the spirit of creating a sharing economy, he wants to make widely available – so we are delighted to have him speak at this year’s Smallholding Scotland conference.

The author of two books “The Permaculture Way” and “The Permaculture Garden”, Graham’s home is Garden Cottage, which is sited in part of the old walled garden of the Lees Stables, Coldstream. It is a forest garden started from scratch twenty six years ago, and is now sufficiently mature to show the intention of its original design. As well as producing 1.25 tonnes of edible produce in 2015, the garden also produces firewood, hundreds of plants and trees a year for the Red Shed nursery, a haven for wildlife, and a general sense of well-being. For anyone interested in practical applications of permaculture principles it’s an inspiring visit.

As well as providing advisory and consultancy services, Graham runs courses on permaculture, forest gardening and food preservation.

Graham’s talk at the conference is “Abundant Scotland: How polyculture, diversity, respect for nature, adding value, alternatives to money, food preservation, sharing knowledge and showing the light to others can lift your enterprise to true sustainability whilst spreading goodwill and yielding 14 tonnes per hectare.  Oh, and feed your family at the same time.”

Abundant Scotland – PDF, 3.1MB

If we can provide any more information or help in any way with anything from the Conference, or if you wish to send feedback about the event please contact us.