Lothians Monitor Farm meeting to look back at the long, hot summer

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Farmers attending the next Lothians Monitor Farm meeting, hosted by Bill Gray and Peter Eccles, on Wednesday 17 October will find out how the farms’ cereals and livestock have performed over the long, hot summer.

The day will begin with a harvest round up from Bill, who will reveal how his arable crops have performed, before Peter takes the group through how the sheep and cattle have fared.

Project facilitator Colin MacPhail said: “This meeting is our harvest round-up for the arable sector. We will have individual crop data and harvest results to hand. There is also a huge amount to discuss on the collaborative projects and new interesting opportunities for the livestock enterprises. We will be discussing plans for the season ahead when touring all the key enterprises, both cereals and livestock, as well as finding out how Bill’s new machinery has performed.”

On the arable side, discussion will centre around this year’s yields with a big variation in the performance of the arable crops, largely down to the difficult weather.

Bill said: “I’m looking forward to the next meeting where we can discuss the 2018 harvest year and look at the results – some of which have been very pleasing and some hugely disappointing. We’ll also discuss some of the plans that we touched on at the last meeting.

“I hope to share some of the lessons we might take away from the season past and to look forward to the next growing season. To date, drilling is almost complete and conditions have been excellent. What a difference a year makes. We can finally put last year to bed and move on.”

The group will visit the Pitscave field, which is part of the collaborative project between Prestonhall and Saughland Farms.

The field is on Prestonhall Farm but is being turned to grass with the aim of providing grazing land for Saughland’s sheep, while hopefully improving the soil quality for future arable crops. The field was recently reseeded and initial grass growth looked poor. However, it seems to have recovered in time for some of Pete’s sheep to use it for winter grazing.

On the livestock side those attending will be asked to contribute to future plans for the farm in a number of other areas including the grazing system for sheep and cattle, especially with the ewes entering the pre tupping period; a discussion on establishing winter kale; and how and when to use fodder beet.

Peter said: “Our fodder beet appears to have grown well in challenging conditions this summer. With limited stocks of winter keep available it is important we utilise what we have efficiently and tailor rations well to suit the different classes of stock. The emphasis must now be on next year’s crops of lambs and calves.”

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 17 October will be begin on Rosemains Farm, Pathhead, EH37 5UQ. All are welcome and the event is free. Tea and coffee will be available from 9.30am and lunch will be provided. However, for catering purposes, those interested in coming along should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at colin@macphailconsulting.co.uk. The meeting is expected to finish by 2.30pm.

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