Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 20 October 2017

Pics: Pay half the price for 800ac of arable land across the pond

At €7,500/ac, complete with planning permission for a five-bedroom house and grain-drying and storage facilities, with roof solar panels this Scottish farm looks like a bargain.

Arable land at Harrietfield, with a rotational farming system of winter wheat, winter oats, spring barley and oil seed rape, selling in lots or as a whole for €7,500/ac
Arable land at Harrietfield, with a rotational farming system of winter wheat, winter oats, spring barley and oil seed rape, selling in lots or as a whole for €7,500/ac
Jim O'Brien

Jim O'Brien

I have begun to look at how farmland sales across the water and on the continent compare to the land market in Ireland. While prices vary somewhat, the big difference is scale.

Napoleon might have described the British as a nation of shopkeepers, but when you look at us in the context of our agricultural neighbours, you would have to conclude that we are a nation of small farmers.

Facilities at Harrietfield, which include grain drying facilities and storage facilities for 1,950 tonnes
Facilities at Harrietfield, which include grain drying facilities and storage facilities for 1,950 tonnes

We tend to get excited about any holding over 100ac, whereas in many European countries 100ac would be regarded as a sizeable field, but not a farm.

Which brings me to the sale of a substantial holding in the Scottish Borders, a 912ac arable estate at Harrietfield, Kelso, Roxburghshire in the south east of Scotland. Not far from the English border, the farm is about 65km from Edinburgh and 40km from Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Kelso lies at the confluence of the Teviot and the Tweed Rivers, and is developed around a monastic settlement founded in 1128.

The farm at Harrietfield is 4km from Kelso, and while currently a non-residential property, it has existing planning permission for a five-bedroom house, permission contingent on the dwelling having a connection with the farm.

The property is on the private treaty market with a guide price of £6.15m sterling or €6.84m, giving a per acre price of about €7,500/ac. Land of this quality in Ireland would make double that.

Jamie Wedderspoon is based at the Edinburgh office of selling agents Savills, and describes Harrietfield as an "outstanding working farm", one of the larger blocks of arable ground to come to the Scottish market for quite some time.

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"It's been a number of years since an arable farm of this size and quality in the Scottish Borders has come on the market, so this is a highly significant sale," he said.

The land is between 40m and 85m above sea level and is described as split between Class 2 and 3(1) by the John Hutton Institute for Soil Research. The soil texture is medium loam with excellent depth capable of growing superb yields of cereal crops. Indeed it has an established record in this regard.

Harrietfield under the plough
Harrietfield under the plough

Of the entire 912ac the largest part, 821.25ac, is arable with a rotational farming system involving winter wheat, winter oats, spring barley and oil seed rape. A further 18.94ac is in pasture with 5.56ac in rough grazing, a 46.46ac parcel is in woodland and 18.36ac in circulation and other spaces.

The whole farm extends to 910.52ac and commands entitlements of £150/ha generating £55,000 or €61,000 in payments per annum. The entitlements are included in the sale.

The estate is in a continuous block divided by minor public roads. These roads along with an internal network of hardcore roadways give easy access across the holding. The fields are large, well laid out and made for modern machinery. Harrietfield has been part of a larger in-hand farming operation where most of the field operations were undertaken by a local contractor.

The farm is home to a wide range of excellent farm buildings, including grain drying facilities and storage facilities for 1,950 tonnes. A number of 10kw solar panels located on the barn roof, generate electricity supplied to the grid and earn up to £1,500 per annum in income.

The farm can be bought in lots or as an entire with the first lot comprised of 486ac at Harrietfield. This portion includes the farm buildings and facilities, the planning permission for the dwelling house, 421ac of tillage ground, 14ac of pasture and 43ac of woodland.

It is hoped the sale of this parcel will generate more than £3.25m, or €3.16m.

The second lot is located at Newtonlees and extends to 295ac with 274ac in arable ground, 4ac of pasture and 3ac in woodland. The selling agents hope this part will make in excess of £2m or €2.22m.

The last lot comprises 128ac of ground west of Skinlaws Toll of which 124ac is in tillage. This portion is guided in excess of £900,000, or €9.99m. The entire 912ac is guided at £6.15m or €6.84m.

Interest in the farm is expected from both sides of the border.

"Land values in Scotland have been behind those in England," explains Mr Wedderspoon, "and while values south of the border have slipped in recent times, Scottish prices have remained steady.

"Nevertheless prices here are still attractive for English buyers," he said.

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