Deadline approaches for monitor farm applications
Published:  02 September, 2016

Nine new monitor farms are wanted across Scotland before the application deadline closes on Friday, 30 September. 

Farmers are wanted in Nithsdale, the Scottish Borders, North Ayrshire, Lothians, Mearns and Angus, Lochaber, Morayshire, Sutherland and Shetland.

The new programme is building on the initiative that was first launched in 2003 and will be jointly run by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and is funded by a £1.25 million bursary from the Scottish Government and the European Union’s knowledge transfer and innovation fund.

The purpose of the new programme is to establish monitor farms to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of producers through practical demonstrations, sharing effective practice methods and the discussion of up-to-date issues. It will adopt a whole farm approach and will help build a resilient business, introduce innovative ideas and highlight the importance of collaboration.

“I jumped at the chance to be a monitor farm, as it was critical for us to maximise output when we had no entitlement,” said Andrew Baillie (pictured), who was a monitor farmer between 2012 and 2015. Since farming at Carnwath, Lanarkshire since 2000, Baillie has increased his flock from 200 to 650 ewes. Many of the farm improvements have been credited to the monitor farm process. “The changes I have made and benefits I have seen are a direct result of being part of the process.”

Beef and sheep upland farmers Ed and Kate Rowell from Hundleshope near Peebles, also saw the effects of the initiative.

“Being a monitor farm has been absolutely fantastic,” said Kate. “We have met lots of new people, it has opened lots of doors for us and we have new contacts in the business world. We have all really enjoyed the whole process.

“When we were first approached to become monitor farmers, I must admit I was very hesitant. However, by the end of the three-year programme I can say that it has been brilliant,” added Ed.

“We have learnt a huge amount and have come on leaps and bounds in silage-making and sheep recording, and the scanning percentage in our hill flock has increased from 80-90% to 122%. It has been a huge learning curve and has had a hugely positive aspect in our farming enterprise. I would definitely encourage other people to become monitor farmers if they get an opportunity.”

Each of the new farms on the programme will be supported by a facilitation team and its own management team. An associated business group will evaluate solutions and best practices before sharing findings with the wider community and through various media channels, including a dedicated website.

For further information and to download an application form visit www.qmscotland.co.uk.