Posted: December 5, 2018

Latest research to be trialled at Lothians Monitor Farm

Innovation through collaboration with researchers will be the main focus at the upcoming Lothians Monitor Farm meeting on Wednesday 12 December.

Having initially partnered with the Moredun Research Institute to bring new livestock research findings on to farm, the team at Lothians Monitor Farm is now looking to link up with the James Hutton Institute to take their arable operations up a gear.

Monitor Farmer Bill Gray, who manages the fully arable Prestonhall Farms, explains: “We partnered with Moredun after a really engaging technology meeting they came along to next year.

“There is so much valuable research going on at places like the Moredun Research Institute and the James Hutton Institute and we really want to trial some of their work on farm and share with other farmers what might work for them in a commercial environment.”

The Management Team at Lothians have already visited the Institute to find out more about ongoing work and are particularly interested in projects  like the Centre for Sustainable Cropping which aim to test cropping systems which optimise both yield and environmental sustainability.

At the meeting a scientist from the James Hutton Institute will share some of the most commercially practical projects which could then be trialled at the Lothians, with the group deciding which would be best to take forward in 2019.

The approach mirrors the work ongoing with the Moredun Research Institute which has seen Lothians Monitor Farmer Peter Eccles, who is a mainly livestock farmer based at Saughland Farm, successfully implementing targeted selective treatment for worming lambs, as well as pen side testing for sheep scab.

On the day the group will also be joined by Niall Jeffrey, who farms at Bielgrange in East Lothian, recently named as AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year.

Niall will discuss how the farm is currently working with UK Agritech Centre Agri-EPI on improving the efficiency of his beef enterprise through better use of technology. The farm currently uses a beef monitor system to weigh the livestock every time they take a drink and they also wear collars which provide early warnings of any health and fertility issues.

Gavin Dick, Commercial Farms Manager for Agri-EPI, says their work can help farmers make better use of available technologies to improve production.

“Imaging and sensor technologies give livestock and arable farmers the opportunity to detect and solve problems earlier, for example identifying potential livestock health issues before any clinical signs appear.” Gavin says. “They can then make informed management decisions earlier which should improve production efficiency.”

At the end of the meeting Niall will be joined by the JHI scientist and QMS Chair Kate Rowell, for an open Q&A session with the community group. Any questions will be welcomed for what will no doubt be a lively discussion.

The Lothians Monitor farm – a partnership between neighbouring farms Saughland and Prestonhall – is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on 12 December will be held at the Juniperlea Inn, Pathhead, all are welcome and the event is free. Lunch will be provided at 12pm and for catering purposes those interested in coming along should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at The meeting is expected to finish by 4pm.


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