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Lochaber Monitor Farm Focuses on Grassland Management

Farmers and crofters are invited to the next meeting at the Lochaber monitor farm on Tuesday 23 May, where the focus will be on grassland management for west coast farms.

Strone Farm, a 1,200-hectare hill farm, located in the Great Glen, one of Scotland’s most scenic locations, is run by Chris Cameron in partnership with his father Malcolm and mother Eileen.

At the meeting next Tuesday, which begins at 11am and includes lunch, Chris Cameron will outline the current grassland policy at Strone.

“We are keen to try and improve our grassland and are looking for suggestions as to how we can do this at Strone. We have limited quality grazing land here and want to learn how we can manage it better in order to reduce feed costs for our livestock,” said Chris Cameron.

Since the last monitor farm meeting in March, the Camerons have oversown one of the fields at Strone with three different seed mixes with the intention of increasing the quality of the grass.  At the forthcoming meeting, Jonny Watson from Watson Seeds will talk about this trial and review the impact so far.

With input from the community group, recommendations will be made about how the Camerons should manage the oversow going forward in terms of weed control, fertiliser and grazing management.  

David Lawson, SRUC grassland specialist, will also be attending to add his expertise to issue found at Strone  such as the effect of nitrogen applications on pH, how to avoid lodging in silage crops, the latest advice on phosphate and potash in soil and the impact of an aerator on soil structure. 

Strone’s location is unique in that it is split by the Caledonian Canal. Access to fields on the other side of the canal is via a 6ft high tunnel, restricting access to by foot or quad bike only. Alternatively, the fields can be accessed by road via a ten mile round trip.

There are 16 hectares of land on the other side of the canal that is mainly used for silage at the moment. The Camerons are keen to receive guidance from those who attend the meeting next week about how this land could be managed in the future and whether the fields should be oversown between cuts this year. The group will have an opportunity to visit the land before breaking into groups to develop a revised grassland policy for Strone.

The Lochaber 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, with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

Strone farm will be hosting regular meetings over the next three years as the Lochaber Monitor Farm, which will focus on technical and financial challenges that their business, and many other local farming businesses, face.

The Lochaber Monitor Farm meetings are open and free for all farmers to attend.  Attendees will also have an input into topics covered, speakers invited to meetings and visits to other enterprises and businesses.

To book your attendance (and lunch!) please contact Niall Campbell or Morven MacArthur on 01631 563093 or email fbsoban@sac.co.uk.

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