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Monitor Farm summer meetings kick off in the north and north-east

By David Porter

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An exciting range of speakers and topics will feature at three open meetings for the North Monitor Farms during June, with the host farming families updating visitors on their progress since starting the programme.

“Anyone who is interested in the Monitor Farms is invited to attend, and we hope to see many of the people who came to our first meetings returning,” says regional adviser Peter Beattie.

“Each farm has a really interesting story to tell, and is on an exciting journey.

"We have invited great external speakers who are tackling some specialist areas and giving visitors a chance to discuss current issues.

“Each meeting will be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what’s happening on-farm and what changes can be made to improve farm profitability and sustainability.”

As catering is provided, booking is essential for each event, and can be done via the Monitor Farm website, https://www.monitorfarms.co.uk/events/ or by emailing monitorfarm@qmscotland.co.uk

The Irvine Family will host the Banff and Buchan meeting on June 2.
The Irvine Family will host the Banff and Buchan meeting on June 2.

Banff and Buchan Monitor Farm - Low Inputs, High Outputs

Friday 2 June, 2pm–5.30pm at Bonnytonhill Steading, Sauchentree Farm, New Aberdour, Aberdeenshire, AB43 7LN

Visitors will be able to view and discuss low input grassland management with Monitor Farmer Bruce Irvine, talk about breeding stock with Tim Geraghty SRUC, discuss bull health with Alison Taylor, Buchan Vets, and hear about mechanical weed control and cover crops with Adrian James, AHDB.

Bruce farms 265ha with cereals, sheep and cattle. He believes the three enterprises are as important as each other, with livestock providing fertility for the arable side. Bruce markets the farm’s organic lamb and beef through Scotbeef and enjoys competing with neighbouring farms on yield and lambing percentage.

The Strathspey Monitor Farm Summer meeting at Auchernack is on June 8 with Calum, Malcolm and Sammie Smith.
The Strathspey Monitor Farm Summer meeting at Auchernack is on June 8 with Calum, Malcolm and Sammie Smith.

Strathspey Monitor Farm - Taking stock at Auchernack

Thursday 8 June, 5pm–8.30pm at Auchernack Farm, Grantown-on-Spey, PH26 3NH

Monitor Farmer Malcolm Smith will discuss nutrient management, while Jane Thomson from Shearwell will talk about cattle EID and handling and Nikki Yoxall, Pasture for Life, will speak about how to improve biodiversity on an upland farm. Following the meeting, visitors are invited to take part in a stockjudging competition, with entry fees going to RHET, the charity that bring farming to life for young people.

Auchernack is an 325ha farm in the Strathspey Valley, farmed by the Smiths since 1936. They have 140 suckler cows and 120 store cattle with a focus on store calf production using mostly Limousin sires. Cattle are overwintered indoors, and calving is split with a third of the herd calving in autumn/winter, the remainder in spring. Sammie Smith, Malcolm’s wife, is also a partner and runs a successful self-catering business.

The Morrisons will host their Deeside Farm meeting on June 17.
The Morrisons will host their Deeside Farm meeting on June 17.

Deeside Monitor Farm - The right beasts for the right farm

Saturday 17 June, 2pm at Upper Ingliston Farm, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, AB51 0LE

Visitors to Duncan and Claire Morrison’s farm will be able to discuss the benefits of mixed species swards and the purpose of grass measurement with grassland specialist, farmer and podcaster Michael Blanche. Monitor Farmer Duncan will speak about breeding stock selection, James Hardie from Agrisolutions will talk about the challenges and benefits of choosing and establishing a brassica crop, while Rachael Robertson from Woodside Vets will focus on making the right bull choice.

The Morrisons farm 226ha, running 220 suckler cows comprising commercial and pedigree Aberdeen Angus and Stabilisers, with about 50 heifers bulled each year. Of the 220 cows, they own 120 and lease a herd of 100 Stabilisers. Most Stabiliser bull calves are finished, some breeding heifers are sold at 12-14 months and the rest sold as stores. They grow 15ha of arable silage and 8ha of kale.

For all meetings, visitors are asked to come with clean cars, footwear and clothing for biosecurity reasons, and to car share wherever possible to help with limited parking.

The Monitor Farm Scotland Programme is managed by QMS with support from AHDB and funding from Scottish Government. It aims, through meetings and benchmarking to improve the resilience and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

For more information, visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk, or contact regional adviser Peter Beattie at pbeattie@qmscotland.co.uk or call 07769 366614.

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