Ladyrig, between Heiton and the Bowmont Forest, was
farmed by the ROBERTON family for more than 200 years
from 1778. At that time the only fertiliser was the manure
produced by beasts on the farm; lime was seldom applied;
there were no artificial animal foodstuffs; drainage was
poor or non-existent and the land was still divided into the
‘infield’ and the poor grazing of the ‘outfield’. From 1799,
the Robertons carried out cross-draining of the boggy areas,
deepened ditches and installed a water-wheel. From 1818,
the application of bone meal began and this, combined
with better drainage, saw a doubling in weight of crops like
JAMES ROBERTON took the fourth lease (1837-72). Better drainage, plus the use of bone meal and guano, brought wet soils under cultivation with spring wheat and barley, while sterile moor was able to produce fine crops of turnips. The railways allowed manures and drainage tiles to be brought in cheaply and bulky crops like potatoes (previously grown only for local use) could now be profitably increased. Many farmers came to Ladyrig to learn from James Roberton, among them Herr Schiffert of Hamburg, Count de Courcy of Paris and a Mr la Noski from Odessa. James Roberton set up scientific trials to gauge the exact effect of weeds on a wheat crop. He was the first Secretary of the Kelso Analytical and Testing Association (set up in 1859) and the Tweedside Agricultural Museum Society (set up in 1841). In 1876 he wrote The History of a Farm about Soursides.
Kelso farmers were at the forefront of the agricultural revolution which began in the 18th century. In the 1760s, William Dawson of Frogden was the first in the area to use the drill system for turnips and reclaimed, drained and fertilized the land. In January 1813 the Border Agricultural Society was formed, holding its first show in September in the Knowes and offered £50 to Mr Robert Glaister of Wooler to set up a veterinary practice in Kelso. In 1852, Kelso Farmers Club took part in a scientific trial of different manures. In the latter half of the 19th century, Robert Elliot of Clifton Park experimented using the ‘ley’ system of crop rotation.
Find out about the contribution people from Kelso have made through the ages. Biographies of characters with Kelso connections who have made their mark throughout the world.View Storyboard: James Roberton of Ladyrig