Pupils learn about farm sustainability

Pupils learning about oilseed rape
Norette Ferns

Pupils from Montrose Academy and Mearns Academy finished their school term learning all about sustainability and renewable energy.

The event for 120 students was organised by Royal Highland Education Trust Angus Countryside Initiative (RHET ACI) and Royal Northern Countryside Initiative and is the first of its kind run by RHET groups. The day focused on some of the renewable energies being produced by farmers, how they are also making their businesses more sustainable and job opportunities in the sector. 

The pupils visited Brae of Pert, by kind permission of Mr Hugh Campbell Anderson who welcomed the pupils to Stracathro Estates and gave them an overview of how the estate is moving to become more sustainable and produce renewable energy. 

Carol Littlewood, Project Co-ordinator for RHET ACI explained:

"Stracathro Estates are ideally suited to deliver an event focusing on sustainability and linked to farming, which ties in well with the curriculum for many subjects being studied by secondary pupils."

Mrs Robertson from Montrose Academy said:

"My colleagues and I took a group of pupils to the Sustainability Event at Stracathro Estates, organised by the Royal Highland Education Trust. The pupils are studying Physics and/or Geography at National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher level. The topics explored on the day were relevant to the syllabus of each curricular area, complementing learning in the classroom and raising pupils' awareness about work being done locally to support the development of sustainable practices and renewable energy.

"While offering a range of curriculum relevant information, the event also offered pupils the opportunity to explore skills for work, learn about career pathways and the local labour market and gave them an insight into their local environment and its potential to support national, even global, initiatives. Many thanks to RHET for working with Stracathro Estates to organise the event."

Students learning about harvesting equipment

Students learnt about the Anaerobic Digester from Bob Nicolson, one of the staff who run the plant and the crops used to feed the digester and the machinery used to harvest them with Gordon Cairns from Stracathro Estates. Michael Adamson from Forster Group delivered a set on solar power, while Ross Gourlay and John Moisey from Muirden Energy came along to talk about wind power. Precision farming is vital to improving sustainability on farms, so Aiden Monaghan from SOYL demonstrated some of the most up to date technology that farmers use to make their farming practices more efficient and which helps reduce the impact of farming on the environment.  Bruce Christie (RHET ACI Chairman) from neighbouring Burghill Farms, focused on oilseed rape and the uses it can be put to, in not only producing food but also in the production of alternative fuel sources and plastics.

Ms Watt from Mearns Academy summed up the day saying:

"It was really interesting to see the practical application of what we are learning in the classroom. The pupils were very engaged and the link to climate change and biodiversity was very relevant to their futures."

Expenses for the event were covered by RHET ACI and RNCI, with some support from Aberdeenshire Council, but as with all RHET events without the speakers and volunteer stewards, who gave freely of their time to attend the event, it could not have happened and RHET ACI and RNCI are extremely grateful to them for this.

Visit the RHET website for more information about the organisation.