BASE-UK MEMBER DOUG CHRISTIE WINS CARBON FARMER OF THE YEAR TITLE
Posted October, 18th, 2023
BASE-UK MEMBER DOUG CHRISTIE WINS FIRST EVER CARBON FARMER OF THE YEAR TITLE.
Doug Christie, BASE-UK committee member and one of our founders, was named as the first-ever Carbon Farmer of the Year, at this year’s Farm Carbon Toolkit field day.
Doug, who farms in Fife, Scotland, won the award for his long-term commitment to reducing emissions and increasing soil carbon, and was commended for his dogged determination to make improvements to farm practice.
Two thirds of the 550ha at Durie Farms, Leven is conventional arable, the remaining one third has an organic suckler herd.
Incremental changes, made over the last 20 years, have resulted in a farm system that is already carbon negative.
An early adopter of conservation agriculture, Doug has introduced direct drilling into a very diverse rotation dominated by spring cropping, with all his spring crops being preceded by a multi-species cover crop.
“A spin off from the change in the system has been a reduction in inputs, all of which are highly embedded carbon products,” he says. “After legumes were introduced, our urea purchase fell from 3 loads to just one.”
Fuel use is coming down all the time, although the farm’s northerly location and cropping choices means that drying is one of his biggest costs on a per hectare basis.
“I calculated that we were using 60l/ha in drying and that the extensive cattle enterprise wasn’t far behind, at 55l/ha. That was due to the feeding and muckspreading operations.”
He switched to mob grazing and has seen fuel use in the cattle almost halve, to 30-35l/ha.
Companion cropping is carried out extensively, with Doug reckoning that he has tried everything. “Oats and beans worked well, barley and peas were OK.”
As a result, legumes have come into the rotation, despite being tricky to grow in Scotland, while spring barley is undersown. He has a stripper header for harvesting undersown crops and owns a cleaner, so that separation of bi-crops can take place.
Perennials are part of the system at Durie Farms, with clovers and herbal leys providing both living roots and soil cover. He recognises that his cattle enterprise is producing methane emissions but believes that the grassland helps to counter that.
“Photosynthesis is where it all starts with carbon, which is why it’s so important to keep a living root in the soil,” says Doug. “We don’t yet know how much soil carbon can be sequestered, but our soils are functioning well and everything is moving in the right direction.”
Louise Impey has written an article about Doug's achievement in the Farmers Weekly - link attached HERE