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Nithsdale’s New Monitor Farm Prepares for First Meeting

Beef and sheep farmers Andrew and Aileen Marchant of Clonhie, Penpont, near Thornhill are looking forward to the launch of an exciting new chapter in their farming lives.

They were recently announced as the Nithsdale monitor farm and will be holding their first in a series of open meetings on their farm on Thursday 26th January.

The Nithsdale 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.

Clonhie will be hosting a series of 18 meetings over the next three years as the Nithsdale Monitor farm, which will focus on technical and financial challenges that their business, and many other local farming businesses, face.

The Marchants moved to Clonhie, which had been grass park let for some years, in 2012 as new entrants. They have since expanded their farming operation to 300 hectares (750 acres) and built their flock up to 900 ewes to the tup this season. With a small herd of 12 Luing cattle they also take on summer grazers and winter cattle in the sheds on the farm, which lies between 450 and 950 feet above sea level and is 1.2 miles up Marrburn Road from the picturesque village of Penpont.

Andrew Marchant is excited about the next three years. He commented: “Given the changing world farm businesses operate in it is going to be ever more important that we all learn and share the tricks of the trade.”

He added: “Improving our livestock production, soil and pasture management, financial performance and coping with other challenges our industry may face will be key to our long term survival.” 

One of Nithsdale Monitor Farm project facilitators, Judith Hutchison, is keen to encourage local farmers to get involved. She said: “The most powerful learning for farmers comes from other farmers. Seeing things actually happen on farm, following the results of changes made throughout the three-year project and having the opportunity to discuss and learn from both successes and failures will be the crux of this project.”

The Nithsdale 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. 

The first Nithsdale Monitor Farm meeting will begin at 10.30am on Thursday 26th January and will be held at Clonhie, Penpont DG3 4NB, where the Marchants will give an overview of their farm business.

The meeting will then move to Durisdeer Village Hall DG3 5BQ for lunch after which, Duncan McEwen will speak about his experiences as a past Forth Monitor Farm host and John Vipond of SAVI will speak on nutrition for in lamb ewes. Representatives from QMS and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds will also give an overview of the monitor farm programme and how local farmers can get involved. The meeting will finish at 3.30pm.

To book your lunch please contact Judith Hutchison, by 12 noon on Monday 23rd January, on 07718 919055 or email judith.agridigm@icloud.com.

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