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Borders Monitor Farm Focuses on Production Costs and Soil Health

The next Borders Monitor Farm meeting, at host farm Whitriggs on Wednesday August 9th, will focus on costs of production and soil health.

The 480-hectare farm near Denholm is run by Robert and Lesley Mitchell, along with son Stuart who are keen to develop their farm business and identify options to increase the efficiency of their production systems.

Whitriggs has 442 hectares of mainly semi-permanent and permanent grassland and approximately 40 hectares of winter wheat and oats to feed stock. The Mitchells recognise that healthy, fertile soil is vital in order to maximise yields.

At the meeting this month Mark Hodkinson from Soils4Life, will lead an infield session looking at the soil makeup at Whitriggs.

Mr Hodkinson, a soil agronomist from Nottingham, will highlight what the attendees should look for in their own soil as well as commenting on the structure and fertility of the soils at Whitriggs. He will also look at the requirements of soil for scenarios of cropping, grass and intensive paddock grazing.

The Mitchells have 140 suckler cows which are a combination of Beef Shorthorn cross and Aberdeen-Angus cross. One of the aims at Whitriggs is to increase cattle numbers and, alongside that, the output of the farm. At the meeting next week, the Mitchells will lead a discussion about the carrying capacity of the farm and look at potential opportunities to increase output.

The family is constantly looking for ways to improve the performance of their suckler herd and their 1,000 strong Lleyn flock and at the meeting the Mitchells will share the costs of production for both the beef and sheep enterprises, for the group to comment on.

Whitriggs farm is one of nine new monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on 9 August will start at Whitriggs Farm, Denholm, TD9 8QR at 10am. There will be a BBQ lunch with Scotch Beef burgers and the meeting is expected to finish by 2.30pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along on 9 August should confirm attendance with Stephen Young, one of the project facilitators, on 07502 339613 or email stephen.young@saos.coop.

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.qmscotland.co.uk or www.cereals.ahdb.org.uk