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Genetics and varieties feature at first Morayshire Monitor Farm meeting

Corskie Farm hosted the first ever whole-farm Monitor Farm meeting for Morayshire on Wednesday 8 February.

The Morayshire Monitor Farm is one of nine Monitor Farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

Iain Green farms Corskie in partnership with his mother and father, and is gradually bringing his two eldest daughters, Laura and Jemma, into the business as well.

At the meeting last Wednesday, Iain and his daughters introduced over 100 local farmers to their business, explaining the various enterprises and how they are integrated, with each contributing to the overall business. The enterprises at Corskie include arable, commercial cattle, pedigree sheep and cattle and indoor pigs.

Whether it be crops or livestock, Iain is keen to get the most out of the genetics. He will try out new crop varieties to assess their performance in the north-east, while he is always looking for new out-crosses in his cattle.

Iain said: “We always strive to improve what we do, whether that’s genetics or new cereal varieties. The main thing for me is to either increase outputs and reduce costs or reduce costs and keep outputs rising.”

Visitors to the meeting looked at a field of hybrid winter barley variety plots, including Sunningdale, Bazooka, Volume and Belfry. While winter barley is not commonly grown in Morayshire, at Corskie, its high yield produces feed for the pig enterprise and an early entry for forage crops for the out-wintered commercial cows.

Two challenges of his current farming system Iain highlighted were the ventilation in the large cattle shed, and the importance of synchronising computer programmes for electronic tagging. However, Iain is looking for more ways to improve.

“I hope the Monitor Farm management group will come up with some challenges for our farm. It’s good to have outside eyes looking at what we’re doing.

“I’m keen to try new things. You never know – there might be some way of adding value to the cereals we grow, or finishing all the cattle on farm, rather than selling store.”

Gavin Dick, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager for Scotland said: “What makes this Monitor Farm scheme different is that it takes the concept to the whole of Scottish Agriculture PLC, sharing knowledge across all of Scotland. It’s a whole-farm approach rather than sector specific, so is no longer limited. This means we can look at the whole business and have greater focus on cost benefit analysis and personal development.”

Iain sees the Monitor Farm project as an ideal opportunity to help succession in his business. By involving his daughters in the project it allows them to glean ideas and experience from a wide range of local expertise, while increasing their awareness of the current business as well as continually looking for improvements.

For Iain, the Monitor Farm was too good a chance to miss: “If you’re offered any opportunity in life, do it.”

The Scottish Monitor Farms programme is funded by £1.25million secured from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.

Those interested in being involved in the project should contact Samantha Stewart on 01343 548789 / samantha.stewart@sac.co.uk or Derek Hanton on 01463 233266 / derek.hanton@sac.co.uk.