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Peter Eccles and Bill Gray Lothians Monitor Farm

Farmers at the next Lothians Monitor Farm meeting on Wednesday 27 February will be asked what plans they have to future proof their businesses.

Oliver McEntyre from Barclays will lead a session titled ‘Is your business fit to survive?' Drawing on his experience as National Agriculture Strategy Director, he will outline how different management styles not only affect businesses ability to borrow, but also their bottom-line.

Project facilitator Colin MacPhail, explained: “The aim is to challenge our thinking, to get the group discussing what might be ahead, so they can start to put plans in place to ensure their businesses thrive in the short to medium term.”

“Oliver will focus on the primary drivers of agriculture in the future and the impact different mind-sets and management styles have on businesses.  While we all have issues that concern us, the key is to focus on those areas where we have real influence and not those where we have limited control.”

In the afternoon there will be a session on drones, focusing on the cost benefit and particularly on how the data they gather can add value to the bottom-line while the final two sessions of the day will see the group split in two.

Those focused on arable will hear from AgriScot Arable Farmer of the Year Donald Ross, who has had success in the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN) Awards which are run by ADAS in partnership with AHDB. Donald will tell the group more about the YEN programme, which aims to help farmers increase their yields, and discuss how Prestonhall Farm can get involved.

Monitor farmer Bill Gray explained: “I’m also keen to learn a bit more about the YEN programme as we are intending to put in an entry this year. As we enter the last year of our project, the focus is very much on the messages we can share and the legacy we can develop from it.”

The livestock farmers will head to Saughland to find out more about how the sheep have performed on the fodder beet over the winter, as well as discussing scanning results and how the away wintered store cattle performed.

“Thus far our experience of growing fodder beet has been very positive,” monitor farmer Peter Eccles says, “providing huge amounts of valuable dry matter and energy at significantly less cost than silage or other bought-in feeds. This enables us to rest grazing fields while ensuring ewe body condition is right going into lambing. I look forward to discussing with the group our ewe scanning results and ensuring nutritional demands are met effectively in the final stages of pregnancy.”

Sharon Flanigan from the James Hutton Institute will also present at the meeting. Sharon has been working with monitor farms across Scotland and elsewhere to explore the impact of such on-farm demonstration activities at both individual and community levels. On the day she will reveal her findings so far.

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 27 February will begin with tea and coffee at 10.30am at the Stairs Arms Hotel, Pathhead, Midlothian, EH37 before moving to Rosemains farm and Saughland Farm after lunch.  EH37 5TX, All are welcome and the event is free. For catering purposes those interested in coming along on 27 February should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at colin@macphailconsulting.co.uk. The meeting is expected to finish by 3pm.

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