Scotland's Monitor Farms Programme
When you change some part of your farm business – herd size, breed of tup, animal handling, disease management, cropping and fertilising – the change doesn’t come about through simply reading about it or being told you should do it. As with most aspects of life, it comes from seeing something in action or discussing options with someone you trust or from hearing recommendations from several different sources.
This approach to sharing ideas lies at the heart of the Monitor Farms Programme, a Scotland-wide network of livestock, pig, dairy and arable farms, led by farmers, for farmers to help improve productivity and, critically, farm business profitability. The Monitor Farmer, aided by a facilitator and a community group of farmers, sets an agenda that over three years aims to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of the farm business. Each farm holds six meetings a year for farmers and an open day for all. It means that, instead of the usual single event, showing off some general farm practice – grassland management, a spraying regime, some new gizmo, etc. – your local Monitor Farm can adopt and run with an idea for the three years of the programme (and beyond).
An independent review for Scottish Enterprise of the monitor farms has highlighted the part the project plays in nurturing the future leaders of Scottish agriculture. The research shows that 70% of monitor farmers progressed to undertake off-farm leadership positions, with the majority of these individuals attributing their new roles to their experience as a monitor farmer.
The Monitor Farmer and the Monitor Farm are the keys to the success of each three-year project. The Monitor Farm has to be accessible and relevant to a wide range of farmers and the Monitor Farmer has to adapt rapidly to having a large, interested, challenging group of neighbours turn up regularly. Monitor Farmers, current and past are keen to see the programme continue so have contributed advice and recommendations to a resource pack for new and potential Monitor Farmers.
Click the title to find more information for farmers.
Each livestock Monitor Farm is supported by facilitators, under contract to another body (e.g QMS, HGCA). The facilitator is responsible for advertising and co-ordinating 6 meetings and one open day annually. They produce meeting reports, hold field trials, write up annual reports and assist with press articles. Facilitators are responsible for organising speakers for each meeting, arranging sampling (e.g. soils, silage, bloods) and for the smooth running of the community group and topical sub-groups between meetings.
Click the title to find more information for facilitators.
The Monitor Farms Programme offers a unique opportunity for farmers to explore management and investments that combine environmental considerations with business performance. Managing conservation habitats, improving the use of energy and reducing inputs on the farm can have a positive impact on the environment while making sense from a business perspective. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is working with several Monitor Farmers and facilitators on initiatives that aim to explore the potential for farming businesses to deliver economic, environmental and wider public benefits.
Click the title to find more information on environmental topics.
Visiting consultants are a vital part of the Monitor Farms Programme, bringing expertise, technical knowledge, advice and alternative views to the Monitor Farm and to the Community Group of farmers who attend the meetings. If you are interested in becoming a consultant to the programme click on the title to find more information.
Click the title to find more information for consultants.
Funding and sponsorship
The Monitor Farms are funded through the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scheme and by QMS, DairyCo, HGCA, Cairngorms National Park Authority and SOPA. Since 2009 several local businesses have contributed to the Monitor Farms through sponsorship, providing valuable funds and also demonstrating wider industry interest in the Monitor Farms Programme.
05 Dec 2013
04 Dec 2013
04 Dec 2013
03 Dec 2013
03 Dec 2013
Upcoming Farm Meetings
December 10, 2013
December 11, 2013
December 12, 2013
December 18, 2013
December 18, 2013