The search is on to find a host farm in the Scottish Borders to take part in the HGCA-funded Arable Monitor Farm programme, which will be facilitated by SAC.
Growers with an appetite for innovation, willing to explore ways of boosting performance and share their findings with their peers are invited to apply.
The Monitor Farm project is farmer-led, dealing with real on-farm issues to drive improvements in performance. The chosen host farm will be facilitated by SAC Agricultural Consultant Donald Dunbar who will co-ordinate specialist input and guide the project throughout the three-year programme.
Through demonstrations, open days, workshops and specialist talks, the Monitor Farm reaches out to the local arable community and beyond. A Community Group made up of local growers and the supply trade forms the monitor farm membership which contributes to the discussion and knowledge exchange that takes place at each meeting. The programme includes financial and technical benchmarking and has access to a range of support tools including HGCA’s online cost management system, Cropbench.
The social opportunities offered by the programme and its links with the wider industry including agri-trade, agronomists, banks and other professionals are a key aspect of its success.
Speaking of the benefits of the Monitor Farm programme, Donald said: “The host farmer benefits from a high level of consultancy support and specialist input, which helps them become more aware of both the technical and financial performance of their business. The wider community group contributes to this process but also benefits from the learning outcomes which are transferable and relevant to the performance of their own farms.”
The new HGCA funded programme follows the successful SAC facilitated Monitor Farm project at Hugh Broad’s Woodhead Farm in East Lothian. Topics covered on Hugh’s 217ha (537 acres) farm included marketing and risk management, measuring fixed costs, benchmarking, forward planning, precision farming, carbon footprinting, research and development, agronomy and agri-environment schemes.
Hugh said: “There is always scope to improve, and there is nothing like constructive criticism to sharpen your judgment. Being a Monitor Farm has exposed us to ideas, information, discussion and independent assessments of a host of machinery, systems and approaches. It has also given a more detailed understanding of costs of production and managing fixed costs – this is the area where differences between running a business and making a profit can be made.”
Steve Barras, HGCA’s Supply Chain Manager said: “We are delighted to be starting a new HGCA arable monitor farm in the Borders region and we look forward to working with SAC and finding the right monitor farmer. We are sure the investment will bring physical and financial benefits to the farmer the community group and to Scottish farming.
For more information on Monitor Farms, or to apply, contact Donald Dunbar on 01835 823322 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or HGCA’s Supply Chain Manager Steve Barras on 0247 647 8742 (email@example.com).
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