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Reaping the Benefits of Better Drainage with Lothians Monitor Farm

Soils expert Mark Hodkinson will emphasize just how much yield potential farmers could be missing out on due to poor drainage systems at the next Lothians Monitor Farm meeting on 25 January.

Mark says: “Drainage is one of the major limiting factors for farmers looking to improve their yields, whether of arable crops or grass, but it can be costly. I argue however that drainage systems are well worth the investment as poor drainage results in a genuine decrease in yields and profit as the land may be being farmed at a fraction of its potential.”

At the meeting Mark will take the community group through recognising and treating drainage issues and outline the potential cost benefit in investing in new systems.

“The best thing about investing in drainage systems is that they should be paid off in a matter of years thanks to the extra yield the improved land will produce,” he explains, “and as they last such a long time the improvement to the bottom line will continue for decades.”

The group will also hear from Andrew Stirrat of Pro Test on fertiliser basics. His very practical session will cover how to make the best use of fertiliser through targeting the right areas, checking your spreader is performing effectively and of course tackling striping which can lead to increased lodging risk, yield loss and decreased quality.

With the increase in sheep numbers at Saughland Farm ensuring a healthy flock is a priority for Farm Manager Peter Eccles and a local SAC Consulting Vet will present on fluke and worm control. Also at the meeting, Emily Grant, Knowledge Transfer Specialist from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), will give an overview of the ‘Better Grazing’ programme which aims to help farmers identify opportunities to improve their utilisation of grazed grass.

“Good grazing management can help reduce costs such as purchased feed, but it can also have a positive impact on flock or herd health & performance” Emily said.

The Lothians Monitor farm – 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 25 January 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 25 January 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.