Mor­ris­ton Farms

A large arable farm, in the heart of live­stock coun­try, using min­i­mum tillage tech­niques to pro­tect soils, while work­ing with the envi­ron­ment to deliv­er sus­tain­able farm­ing and busi­ness operations.

Farmer: Lord David Kennedy

Estate Factor: Chris Savage

Address: Culzean, By Maybole, Ayrshire, KA19 8LB

Member since 2004 and LEAF Demonstration Farm since 2006

The Farm

Morriston Farms is a large arable farm extending to 620 ha, in the heart of livestock country, using minimum tillage techniques to protect soils, while working with the environment to deliver sustainable farming and business operations. The farm is fairly unique to the area in being an arable operation and in the practice of minimum (strip) tillage. All crops grown on the farm are grown for specific, well researched markets or specific customers. Most crops are grown for the livestock feeding market, making the most of the fact that the farm is in a predominantly livestock producing area, thereby reducing food miles. Crops are also grown for a local anaerobic digester. Current cropping includes hybrid rye, triticale, spring barley, spring beans, maize and fodder beet.

Activities

The farms are part of a larger estate and as such have regular and active engagement with local communities. On larger projects, local community councils are consulted to obtain their support/endorsement before progressing.

Strip tillage is the mainstay of arable operations, with the same drill being used to sow all of the grain, legumes, maize and biodiversity crops. Routine soil analysis has been used over many years and aims to keep the pH in the optimal range consistent with the field rotations being adopted. Off-farm sources of organic matter are utilised including sewage sludge (in various forms), digestate, cattle slurry, FYM and Hen Pen.

The farm has extensive areas managed for biodiversity including species rich grassland, unharvested crops, wetlands, water margins and hedges, all of which form a rich tapestry of habitats and contribute to a wider Farmland Bird Initiative which was established with some neighbouring farmers. The use of fallow land around fields has allowed some of the variable land to be left uncropped providing habitat for beneficial predatory species. The use of insecticides has, as a result, largely been avoided for over 25 years. In 2016, the farm was also accepted for Wildlife Estates Level 2 accreditation. The National Trust for Scotland property, Culzean Castle and Country Park, neighbours the land and works closely collaboratively on conservation and education initiatives.

The farm regularly hosts visits for school parties through the Royal Highland Education Trust, as well as for college students and farmer groups.

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