Profiles/ Tom Sampson, Mains of Balgavies, Angus

Tom Sampson, Mains of Balgavies, Angus

Mains of Balgavies is one of Scotland’s first environmental focus farms. It is part of a Scottish Government funded project being delivered by the Scottish Agricultural College, to develop practical and economically viable solutions to ground water pollution from agricultural sources.

Tom Sampson

  • Has farmed his traditional 700 acre arable farm at Mains of Balgavies for over 20 years;
  • Contract farms a further 700 acres in the same area;
  • Produces arable crops, including wheat, winter and spring barley, oats and oil seed rape;
  • Farms in the Lunan River catchment area which has been identified as a nitrate vulnerable zone.

Why monitor?

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency identified a significant amount of pollution in the River Lunan that was of agricultural origin. As a potential source of drinking water, this can be a problem for human health. It can also cause algal blooms and other biological changes, affecting the health of the river ecosystem.

There is, therefore, a need to develop approaches that allow food to be produced without compromising water quality.

What can be done?

By taking part in the project Tom is helping identify the most effective and workable measures to tackle water pollution from agricultural sources. The aim is that these measures can be rolled out into general farming practice once tested and proven. The measures being tested include:
  • Precision, rather than blanket, application of fertilisers and pesticides;
  • The use of sediment traps;
  • Riparian planting schemes.
The project started in 2007 and is due to end in 2011 when findings will be fully analysed and reported on.

Taking the lead

Scottish Land & Estate’s Chief Executive, Doug McAdam, points out: “It is important that, like Tom, members of Scottish Land & Estates engage with these voluntary schemes and act on the findings. In this way, practices are developed that work both for rural businesses and wider society. If we don’t engage voluntarily, the risk is that Government is forced to regulate.”

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