What next for our monitor farmers?

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

With one year of the Monitor Farm Scotland programme left to run we find out what are farmers have planned for 2019.

Monitor Farm Scotland is a joint initiative managed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government.

Lothians Monitor Farm

Bill Gray (Preston Hall Farms) and Peter Eccles (Saughland Farm)

Bill: “2019 is our last year so we are focusing on the legacy of our project by compiling a toolkit for other farmers interested in trialling a livestock/arable collaboration.”

Peter: “I’d like to see us getting more positive messages out to the public about the strengths of farming in our community and the excellent quality and sustainability of our produce. For example how we are improving our ability to work with and alongside nature.”


Vic and Jason Ballantyne (Clynelish Farm) 

“We will follow up on some of the testing and results we have been gathering for the last two years and use this to form plans for the future. For the livestock this includes health and fertility planning and continuing to improve conception rates. For the health of the farm it is grass rotations, soil health and maximising use of forage crops.”


Stuart, Lesley and Rob Mitchell (Whitriggs Farm)

“We’re looking to keep growing the cattle numbers, when the monitor farm programme started we had 140, we are now up to 170 and want to get to 200.

“We’ve also increased our hectares of cereals from about 75 ha to 175 ha which we’ve been able to do due to taking the sheep off. We’re growing oats for milling and we hope to use the winter barley for straw so we don’t have to buy as much in.”


Chris Cameron (Strone Farm)

“As a farm we want to improve our grass production as that is one of the most important elements of being a livestock producer. I also want to look at whether we continue to fatten lambs, I think having tried it we will probably go back to store, as for us the costs of finishing them is just too high.”

North Ayrshire

John Howie (Girtridge Farm)

“We are going to use everything we have learned so far we to hone in on one particular breed of cattle – the continental. We’ve always had quite a few breeds but I think continental will be easier to manage and work well with the system we are going to be using this year. We’re going to rotationally graze them, then bring them in earlier, making use of the cereals and the sheds, so we can get more out of them.”


Aileen and Andrew Marchant (Clonhie Farm)

“We’ve had a huge amount of change already on farm, including taking on a deer herd so we will really be looking to consolidate this year. We’ll keep working on improving our utilisation of the grass and we’ll also be trying to rejuvenate some swards to improve quality while keeping costs down. We also want to look at how our breeding programme is doing, to make sure it is the right system for our farm.”


Robert, Rory, and Alison Tom Stodart (Mill of Inverarity Farm)

“For 2019 we are actively looking at our succession planning and the structure of the business. For us it is not just what will happen to the business when we are no longer in charge, but more about how we introduce the boys into the business and support them toward making management decisions.”


Kirsty and Aimee Budge (Bigton Farm) 

“Our plans would be to continue to improve grass utilisation and look at different ways to increase the value of outputs for example we would also like to try growing fodder crops to decrease fattening time of lambs.

“We sold beef privately in 2018 and hope to increase our sales of this for 2019 by offering an order list with different cuts allowing the consumer to choose how much and what they would like.

“We also hope to increase our barley yield by at least 0.5kg/ton as we believe there is a lot of potential. We will be growing a different variety and increasing fertiliser inputs.”



Iain Green (Corskie Farm)

“We want to do more trials on barley this year. We’ll be trialling Syngenta varieties of winter barley but we’ll also be growing a mix of spring barleys so we can get a better idea of which offers the best yield and quality. As well as Concerto, we’ll also be growing Laureate, Diablo and Fairing.

“On the livestock side we’ll continue to test the Beef Monitor system, and we’ll also be using Moocall which uses tags and collars to record bulling times.”

Monitor Farm Scotland is jointly managed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government.

This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2019 edition of All About Scotland.

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