Lothians Monitor Farm Meeting Looks at Arable and Livestock Performance

Farmers attending the next Lothians Monitor Farm meeting on Thursday 5 October will discover how the two farms’ collaboration on land and labour is working out, as well as reviewing the arable harvest and livestock performance.

The group will visit one of the main areas of partnership between the farms; the stubble turnip cover crops established at Prestonhall, which will then be used to feed some of Saughland’s lambs next year. There will also be feedback on the labour sharing at harvest plus the group will see Prestonhall’s new biomass boiler.

Project facilitator Colin MacPhail says: “This meeting is the ideal opportunity to look back at some of our key priorities, for example demonstrating how neighbouring farms can work together to benefit both businesses, and improving the efficiency of both Prestonhall’s arable operation and Saughland’s livestock enterprises.”

On the arable side the farmers will review how the main crop varieties have performed this season, using the information to shape farm manager Bill Gray’s plans for the coming season. They will also discuss the crop protection strategy, the farm operation and marketing.

Bill says: “I'm looking forward to sharing the trials and tribulations of this harvest and the challenges of the upcoming autumn and explore what lessons we can all learn from it. In addition, we can have a look at our grain marketing in a little more detail. This is a key part of any farm business and we at Prestonhall have taken steps to create some strategy. At the meeting we will assess what we've achieved so far and look ahead to the rest of the campaign to try and optimise our output while managing the risks.”

There will be a similar review session for the livestock group with Saughland’s Peter Eccles where they will focus on how the genetics performed and how they might be changed for next season, the animal heath strategy, as well as also looking at the farm operation and marketing.

Peter says: “With 2,500 breeding sheep now on farm at Saughland we will be looking not only at how they performed this season but how we can get the most out of them next year. We will discuss the breeding strategy and pre tupping management which includes body condition scoring, nutrition, trace element supplementation, relevant vaccinations and parasite challenges. The continued wet weather is impacting on all of these so I feel there will be great value in sharing and discussing as a group, ways to mitigate potential loss in production next year.”

The Lothians Monitor farm is a partnership between neighbouring farms Saughland and Prestonhall 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 5 October will start at Rosemains, Pathhead, EH37 5UQ with tea and coffee from 9.15am. Lunch will be provided and the meeting is expected to finish by 2pm, however arable farmers will be able to leave by 12.30pm if necessary. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along on 5 October should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit