Five years on from hosting Farming For A Better Climate’s pilot project, Montrose farmer Willie Officer has seen his changed approach to on-farm practices improve yields and reduce input costs.

“We need to be constantly looking at ways to make our business more profitable”, said Mr Officer. “We took livestock out of the rotation when we had to sell the cattle during the BSE years, and I wanted to see if there were ways to do a better job to help both the soil and the wider environment.”

As sustainability continues to dominate the rural narrative, the Officers looked at various renewable options and decided solar panels were the best fit for their system. Since 2017, these have outperformed the predictive figures, which has been very welcome in the context of high energy costs. “There’s still reliance on the main grid over the winter, but demand is largely covered by the panels in the summer” said Mr Officer.

Market round-up

At Ayr yesterday, 2881 hoggets met even greater demand than last week but plainer types pulled the sale average to 271p/kg or 282p/kg SQQ.

Top price of the day was £158/head for a pen of Beltexes from Balcaimie, which topped the market for a 45 kilos Beltex making 339p/kg. 1131 Blackface Hoggets averaged £113/head or 272p/kg. Netherwood Farm led the Blackfaces at £140/head, while the Woodburn Family sold to an average £131/head. Adamcroft Blackfaces sold to 288p/kg.

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Thirty-two prime heifers sold yesterday in Carlisle to 302p/kg, up 29p/kg on the week, and peaked at 340p/kg, while 23 prime bullocks dropped slightly on the week to average 275p/kg, peaking at 325p/kg. Young bulls were mostly unchanged at 245p/kg. 50 cast beef cows fell on the week to average 206p/kg and sold to 315p/kg, while 195 cast dairy cows fared better and averaged 162p/kg, selling to 240p/kg.

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Hoggs continued to meet strong demand and averaged 289p/kg, up 21p on the week, but the biggest rise was in lowland and hill ewes which sold to an average of £126 & £94/head, up on the week by 31p/kg and 40p/kg respectively.

Prime beef bred heifers at Lanark yesterday averaged 314p/kg, a rise of 7p on the week, and met a top price of 340p/kg. Cast beef cows also rose, by 9p on the week, to average 211p/kg. A large consignment of hoggets also met a favourable trade, rising 6p on the week to average 272p/kg and peak at £167/head, while cast ewes dropped slightly to average £92/head. Blackfaces sold to £90/head.

At St Boswells, 46 bullocks averaged 284p/kg and sold to 332p/kg. Sixty heifers averaged 301p/kg and sold to 336p/kg. Meanwhile, 35 cast cows averaged 218p/kg and sold to 307p or £2187/head. Meanwhile, 1674 hoggs finished 15p up on the week at 273p/kg or £129/head and sold to £170 for Beltexes, and 217 cast sheep averaged £97/head and sold to £161/head for Beltexes.