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Collaborate and Innovate to Drive Efficiency with Lothians Monitor Farm

Collaboration and innovation are key to more efficient farming, particularly when it comes to machinery, something the Lothians Monitor Farm will demonstrate at their upcoming meeting on 8 March.

The event will focus on machinery, investigating how best to finance it, the benefits of sharing it and what the future holds for on farm technology.

Kit Franklin from Harper Adams University who leads the Hands Free Hectare project will describe how his team managed to successfully plant, tend and harvest a crop with only autonomous vehicles and drones. Their first hands free crop of spring barley achieved a yield of 4.5 tonners/ha and they hope to see that improved with their second attempt, this time with winter wheat.

Moving on to the future of livestock farming, Dr Stewart Burgess from the Moredun Research Institute will focus on the technology which could make the biggest impact on livestock profitability in the next 25 years, such as pen side blood testing which offers immediate results.

Stewart says: “New and emerging technologies, such as portable DNA sequencing, pen-side diagnostic tests and remote sensors have the potential to transform the way that we manage disease in our livestock; impacting on the detection, treatment and prevention of disease.

“In particular, the combination of these technologies and their successful integration into existing farming practices can significantly reduce the burden of disease, improving animal welfare and productivity”.

Willie Thomson, Chair of the Lothians Management Group, and Borders farmer Rob Forrest, will discuss their experience of machinery sharing which has allowed them to reduce their fixed costs without reducing their output, and Willie is particularly passionate about encouraging more farmers to work together.

He says: “Collaboration between farmers is something we will all have to do more of in the coming years, whether it is sharing labour, or machinery, or in some other way. I hope through this monitor farm we can show how collaboration can work well, and encourage others to replicate it.”

The Lothians Monitor farm – a partnership between neighbouring farms Saughland and Prestonhall – is one of nine 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 8 March will be held at the Juniperlea Inn, Pathhead, EH37 5TE, all are welcome and the event is free. Tea and coffee will be available from 10am and lunch will be provided, however for catering purposes those interested in coming along on 8 March should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at colin@macphailconsulting.co.uk. The meeting is expected to finish by 2.30pm.

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk.