Six host farmers have agreed to take part in the Monitor Farm Legacy initiative which runs until July 2021. Their farm projects – the earliest of which dates from 2003 – will be revisited to update the farming industry on their progress.
Funded by the Scottish Government, and jointly managed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the initiative will deliver a series of virtual events featuring each of the six Monitor Farms. These will give the host farmer and their local community group an opportunity to review and reflect on the positive business changes and on-going projects that have lasted beyond their previous involvement with the Monitor Farm Programme.
A series of case studies about each farm will reflect on the themes that were most relevant to their business including: herd and flock productivity, environmental management, diversification, and succession. Virtual events including a farm tour, field ‘walk & talk’, webinars, Facebook live events and podcasts will be used to let everyone know about the work being done at each farm. Carbon audits and an Integrated Land Management Plan are also part of the programme.
Hugh Broad from Woodhead, Gifford in East Lothian commented: “We became a Monitor Farm in 2007 and were one of the first arable farms to participate in the programme. I am a great believer in the value of evidence led learning and peer review as it helps inform decision making.
“Constructive criticism is a benefit for our business and there is always more to be learnt so the opportunity to revisit the Monitor Farm programme and look at what else we can improve on is one we couldn’t turn down. We are looking forward to sharing what we learn this time round with the wider farming community.”
Strategic, operational and management groups will be established to review and develop the key aims and objectives of the programme, from setting out KPIs to conducting a six-monthly review of the legacy programme.
Beef and sheep farmer Robbie Newlands from Cluny Farm near Forres highlights: “Our original management group continued to meet after the Monitor Farm Programme ended eight years ago. There is a dozen of us and it is all very informal and has become more of a social group. We meet up when we can and visit each other’s farms to look around to see what each of us is doing and offer advice and constructive criticism. Joining the legacy programme will hopefully encourage more local farmers to get involved and benefit from access to the group.”
Claire Hodge, Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager, AHDB said: ”The monitor farm programme has allowed Scottish farmers to benefit from its ‘farmer led and farmer driven’ focus and we are delighted to be able to work with some of our previous monitor farmers again. The opportunity to revisit what has been done previously and look forward to what more can be done will offer a fresh approach for each farming enterprise.”
Bruce McConachie, Head of Industry Development at QMS said: “With the launch of the new legacy farms across Scotland there is an opportunity to build on the success achieved to date and for the industry to play a role in the transformational change of farm and rural business in Scotland which will help meet the challenges ahead.”
A new Monitor Farm Hub will be developed as part of the programme. It will provide an online platform and act as a valuable tool for knowledge transfer to support farmers in Scotland.
The former monitor farms selected to be part of the legacy initiative, funded by the Scottish Government, include:
- Robbie Newlands, Cluny Farm
- Andrew Baillie, Carstairs Mains Farm (Carstairs)
- Iain MacKay, Torloisk Farm (Mull)
- Kenny Adams, Torhousekie Farm, (Wigtown)
- Andrew Booth, Savock Farm (Ellon)
- Hugh Broad, Woodhead (East Lothian)