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Soil Profile and Drainage to be Hot Topics at North Ayrshire Monitor Farm Meeting

A deeper look at soil profile and improving drainage will be the main topics of discussion at the next meeting of the North Ayrshire Monitor Farm on Wednesday 15 August.

At the meeting, which will be held at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, the results of the #soilmyundies trial to assess soil health will be discussed. Five members of the community group have buried their underpants in a range of soils on their own farms and are looking forward to seeing how they have fared.

The microbial activity of soil, an indicator of soil health, can be visually assessed in the simple practical experiment known as #soilmyundies. Originating in Canada, this simple test is a popular way for farmers to get an indication of how healthy their soils are.

Drainage Specialist Gavin Elrick from SAC Consulting will give an overview of the practical aspects of drainage repairs and maintenance in the field and outline the specification and costs of new drainage systems.

Using host monitor farmer, John Howie’s wettest field, Mr Elrick will explore options and costs to make it more productive.

Mr Howie runs the 140-hectare Girtridge Farm in partnership with his mother Margaret and his sister Mary. They also own an additional 35 hectares of grazing nearby.

As well as the 200 bought-in cattle that they finish, the Howies also run 240 breeding ewes.

“I am really looking forward to discussing the results of the #soilmyundies trial and also hearing the insights of Gavin Elrick,” said Mr Howie.

“It has been a very challenging year here in the South West of Scotland with extremely dry weather following a very wet spring when ineffective field drainage systems hindered access to land and reduced pasture utilisation.

“Hopefully Gavin will provide an insight into how we can manage and improve our wet fields so we can maximise grass production in the future.”

At the meeting, which is free and open to all farmers, David Kerr from ScotEID will also demonstrate the technologies available and the potential benefits of EID in cattle management.

Mr Howie has tagged cattle with both frequencies of EID tags - low frequency (LF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) – and Mr Kerr will demonstrate read ranges of tags.

Malcolm Young  from SAC Consulting will also attend the meeting to discuss woodland opportunities at Girtridge.

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across 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.

The meeting on 15 August at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, KA2 9BX, will begin at 10.30am. Lunch will be provided and the meeting is expected to finish by 3pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For catering purposes, those interested in coming along should confirm attendance by calling 01292 525252 or emailing FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk