SCOTLAND'S four-year Monitor Farm Programme is now into its final months, setting the scene for a grand gathering of its participants and organisers at this month's AgriScot.

The project involved farms from the Shetland Isles to the Scottish Borders, sharing and trialling new ideas and novel business arrangements, with the aim of demolishing the traditional barriers standing in the way of a more collaborative, sustainable and resilient agricultural industry.

As it draws to a close, the results of the programme's 'exhilarating journey of personal, business and community development' will be detailed at a seminar, led by Quality Meat Scotland chair Kate Rowell, at the country's biggest farm business event, being held at Ingliston on November 20.

There will be a range of speakers covering different aspects of the Monitor Farm Scotland Project, including Lothians dual monitor farmers Peter Eccles and Bill Gray, who demonstrated the benefits of a collaboration between neighbouring arable and livestock units, alongside Nithsdale monitor farmer and industry new entrant Andrew Marchant, and Dr Fiona Kenyon from Moredun Research Institute who has been involved with some of the trials as part of the project.

The panel will talk through their involvement in the project and its key themes:

• Collaboration – from utilising livestock to benefit soil health on arable farms, to collaboration with other livestock farmers to ensure flock and herd performance is optimised, what systems work to encourage and develop collaboration between farmers?;

• Sustainability – making the best use of data to reduce anthelmintic and antibiotic use on farm, to increasing kilograms produced per hectare and what solutions have been found to increase the long-term sustainability of their farms?;

• Resilience – succession, introducing new income streams and challenging yourself, what have our monitor farmers learned from understanding themselves better?

Ms Rowell commented: “The Monitor Farm Programme has proved hugely beneficial for not just our host farmers, but the wider farming community as well. This seminar will provide farmers and other members of the farming industry the chance to hear first-hand from those who have been directly involved in the programme for the last three-and-a-half years.

“It will provide a fantastic insight into just some of the key trials that have been running, and the opportunities that have arisen from them that will hopefully encourage others to think about their business and the solutions that are available to develop a sustainable livestock industry.

“The seminar is open to all, and we would encourage farmers to ask questions and drive discussion around the programme and the outcomes that we have seen for each of the farmers and their businesses from being part of this.”

There are currently nine monitor farms established in Scotland – in Nithsdale; Scottish Borders; North Ayrshire; Lothians; Angus; Lochaber; Morayshire; Sutherland and Shetland – as part of a joint initiative by QMS and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds, funded by £1.25million secured from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund. The objective of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of farm businesses through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues

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