Page 1

Farming Country Issue eighty-six • September 2012

£2.00


Be sure to pick up your October Issue of Farming Country published by farmingscotland.com; at your local newsagent, Co-op Store or at Tarff Valley, Dumfries. It will be packed with on farm features, interviews, news and views from across Scotland and Northern England.


EDITORIAL

Farming Country

4 7

Sheep Beltex

Issue eighty-six • September 2012

W Eilidh MacPherson

Farming Country EDITOR: Eilidh MacPherson Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG7 3TE Tel: 016444 60644 Mobile: 07977897867 editor@farmingscotland.com www.farmingscotland.com PUBLISHER - Eilidh MacPherson ADVERTISING – Eilidh MacPherson – 016444 60644 Cover - Iain Brownlie & Gus, Scottish National Sheep Dog Trial Winners – photo Rebecca Lee Text and photography by Eilidh MacPherson unless otherwise stated

elcome to the first issue of the magazine to grace the newsagent and Co-op stores’ shelves. If you are reading this thanks for buying the first issue and I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail with any feed back. Time flies – I can hardly believe that it is nine years since Issue One hit the press back in September 2003 and was distributed ‘free for farmers’ across Scotland and Northern England. Talking of time flying – this month has been no exception. Time seemed to be spent learning about barcodes and distribution teamed with endless form filling, so the myriad of on farm features I had planned for the inaugural ‘paid for’ issue were put on hold. Congratulations to Iain Brownlie and Boreland Gus, who are gracing the cover this month, on their win at the Scottish National Dog Trials. A report and full results (for those who aren’t up with the internet yet) are on the first double spread. Last week we headed to Carlisle to my first pedigree Beltex sale to purchase another Beltex tup for crossing. We keep some ewe lambs from Blackfaces mated to a Texel cross Charolais tup and cover them with the Beltex – which leave good

shaped off-spring. We were successful in our mission and came home with a classy looking sire named ‘Smirnoff.’ The Beltex lamb record was broken early on in the day – read about it on page 6. I have the usual mix of beef, sheep and dairy articles this month, with a Monitor Farm special – Meet the Monitor Farmers. Fiona Turnbull has interviewed Andrew Gilchrist of Scottish Agronomy and agricultural contractor Allan Myles in the arable section. There are interesting columns from Around the Regions – John Sinclair and John Scott and the New Entrant, John Fyall as well as another column by my Granny – Margaret H MacPherson – who wrote for the ‘The Scottish Farmer, Farming World and Household,’ sixty years ago. Amazingly farmers then seemed to have many of the issues that affect farmers today! We have a photography competition on the inside back cover for you to enter. Please e-mail your entries as a jpeg or pdf to me at editor@farmingscotland.com. There will be good prizes for the top four entries – I am still finalising them as we go to press! Winning photos will be printed in the next issue – so get snapping. SHOW TIME is the topic this time.

8 9

Beef Marketing

1 0 Dairy Milk 12 1 4 Cutting Edge Olympic Beef Chilli Pipers

1 5 Monitor Farm Meet the Monitor 1 9 Farmers 2 0 Arable Agronomy 2 5 Scottish Contracting 2 6 Machinery New Holland 27 2 9 Around the Regions Highland & Lothian 30

Page 4 - Rebecca Lee Page 8 - Laura Young Page 14 - Top - Rebecca Lee

3 3 New Entrant John Fyall

Page 15 -19 - QMS & bottom on p14 Page 22, 24 & 25 - Rebecca Lee (left) Page 26 - New Holland Page 29-30 - Contributors’ own

3 4 Rural Round -Up Photography Comp, 3 5 Farm Names

3


SHEEP

NATIONAL SHEEP DOG TRIAL

The Scottish National Team for 2012 is as follows: 1st Mr Ian Brownlie, Alloa 2nd Mr Neil McEachern, Dunoon 3rd Mr Bobby Dalziel, Ettrick Valley 4th Mr John Casey, Argyll 5th Mr John MacKillop, Inverness 6th Mr Tony Welsh, Patna, Ayrshire 7th Mr Ewen MacKinnon, Rosshire 8th Mr Norman MacDonald, Kirkcudbrightshire 9th Mr Johnny Templeton, Ayrshire 10th Mr Ewen MacKinnon, Rosshire 11th Mr Fraser Shennan, Ayrshire 12th Mr Archie Aitchison, Peebleshire 13th Mr Mosse Magnusson, Perth 14th Mr Stuart Grant, Rosshire 15th Mr Michael Shearer, Thurso Res: Mr Neil McVicar, Dunoon

Boredale Gus Chloe Selkirk Joe Ben Joe Dave Nan Jake Ben Gyp Fizz Coll Myllin Davey Kim Jim Podge

196 194 193 192 192 191 191 191 190 190 189 186 184 183 182 181

Brownlie & Boreland Gus Grab Scottish National Title

I

an Brownlie, who farms at Alloa, Clackmananshire teamed with Boreland Gus took out the Scottish National Sheep Dog Trial at the weekend. The three day trial was held on Thursday 16th - Saturday 18th August, 2012 at Kypehill Farm, near Strathaven, Lanarkshire by kind permission of Mr & Mrs Alec Nimmo. The weather held quite well with only a few showers on the Friday with the best days being Thursday and Saturday, where the sun was shining at times. The Scotch Mule gimmers, supplied by J. P. Campbell & Sons, Glenrath, proved quite a test on all three days. They were released from the holding pens at the top of the field and walked out around 30 yards to the starting post. Most of the handlers sent their dogs on the right hand outrun, where the field was slightly raised all the way up to the top – about a 400 yard outrun. It was

a great field for viewing the trials. Over the three days 150 competitors and dogs from all over Scotland competed for the 15 place Scottish team, which heads to the International in Cardiff in September. Ian Brownlie’s Gus is 5 years and 2 months old and bred by Neil McVicar’s Spot and out of C Ennion’s Judy. Ian sent Gus out to the right on the outrun, which was good and lifted the sheep well at the top of the field. Ian and Gus held a good line down the fetch and through the gates, with only a few slight line deviations. Gus had the sheep moving at a steady pace, which lead to a tight turn round the handler’s post. On the first leg of the left hand drive the sheep held a good line with Gus guiding them from a distance. They got the first drive gates and just after the turn the sheep turned back towards the gates causing a line deviation, but Ian and Gus worked

hard to get the sheep back on line and continued with a steady cross drive and straight through the second drive gates with a good tight turn and nice return to the shedding ring. Ian and Gus had 6 minutes 24 seconds to take their first shed, which was to split 2 unmarked sheep from the 5. There was one try at the shed but then man and dog made the split and continued to the pen with 2 minutes 56 seconds to complete the next element. The Alloa team worked well at the pen and got the sheep into the pen with no breaks. The last element was to shed 1 collared sheep from the 5, which they did with ease and finished with a total score of 196 out of 220. Runner up was Mr Neil McEachern from Dunoon running Chloe. She ran out well to the left hand followed by a smooth lift. There was a slight squiggle on approaching the fetch gates but Neil and Chloe guided the sheep safely through the gates. There

were slight line deviations on the first leg of the drive but a good cross drive and a nice return back to the shedding ring with 6 minutes left to complete the hand work. Neil and Chole had a good first shed followed by a classic pen with no breaks and a good single to finish with 3 minutes to spare. The total score was 194. The Scottish Brace Champions were Miss Julie Hill from Heriot in Mid Lothian running Mac and Ban. Mac ran out to the left hand and arrived a little before Ban. The lift was well balanced and the fetch well controlled, with good lines. The driving was equally good, with a slightly slow start to the cross drive and good lines. The sheep were inclined to be cheeky at the open pen, and Mac split the sheep before penning them at the gated pen. They finished on a total score of 247/280. Ewen MacKinnon of Ross-shire running Nan and Roy came second in the Brace with a score of 226.

by Fiona McMillan pics by Rebecca Lee

4

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


DAY 1 S46 M Priestley MOSS 157 S45 C M Magnusson MYLLIN DAVEY 184 S44 M Murray SPOT ABS S43 J K Allan BEN 171 S42 Mrs P Grieve OZZIE RET S41 W Cormack ROCK 136 S40 J A Common TADDYMOOR MIRK 176 S39 J W Menzies BALEDMUND HOPE RET S38 N A MacDonald BILL 182 S37 R B Henderson TIG 136 S36 O V Brown JED 120 S35 D Robertson SARN FAEN MOT 175 S34 E C Mackinnon GYP 190 S33 I M Brownlie BOREDALE GUS 196 S32 Miss K J I Birkett TESSA ABS S31 A D Carnegie CHIP 176 S30 G R Clark MAY RET S29 S L Davidson GEORGE 169 S28 E A J MacLean ROY 171 S27 J M Seton GLEN RET S26 R Dalziel SPOT 177 S25 J A MacKillop JOE 192 S24 M C Shearer JIM 182 S23 F S Renwick QUEEN 155 S22 S J Grant VICKY 154 S21 N Campbell GUS 176 S20 J W Common KATE 149 S19 N McEachern ANN 162 S18 D Wallace ROB 179 S17 J B Ramsay RIB 158 S16 J L McMillan LAMP 152 S15 J A MacLeod BILL ABS S14 P Martin JESS (Lucy) 147 S13 A Jardine CORRIEDHU SPOT 83 S12 (155) C Dickson JACK RET S11 (153) S J McLay JIM 118 S10 J J Templeton MBE BEN 190 S9 K Howlett SWIFT 148 S8 A R Mundell FLEET 127 S7A K Donald GLEN 151 S6 Miss J Hill BAN 171 S5 Mrs V Billingham TWEEDHOPE GARRY 109 S4A J D Robinson CAP 155 S3 D D Campbell TESS 153 S2 (152) Mrs L J Magnusson NET 130 S1 (151) D Smith CAP 83 S3B BRACE P Martin MAID & JESS 219 S2B BRACE E C Mackinnon NAN & ROY 226 S1B H MacLean ROY & KIM 20

DAY 2 S100 J C Maclachlan BILL RET S99 R Dalziel JOE 193 S98 F W Shennan FIZZ 189 S97 A Simpson LOOS RET S96 R MacDiarmid JIM RET S95 K Preston QUEEN RET S94 K W Brehmer FLOSS ABS S93 N McEachern CHLOE 194 S92 J Casey BEN 192 S91 A Watson JAKE RET S90 J S Hastie CAP RET S89 W Cormack JEN RET S88 O V Brown KILLIEBRAE SWEEP RET S87 R Ritchie ROSS ABS S86 J R Welsh TANHILL NAP 165 S85 J M Seton ZAC RET S84 Miss J Hill MAC 175 S83 Miss K J I Birkett TESS (Gift) ABS S82 M Murray JIM ABS S81 J K Allan TWEEDHOPE TRIM ABS S80 B Rendall JIM RET S79 J J Templeton SPOT RET S78 S Paton CRAIG RET S77 J A MacLeod GALE ABS S76 J D Robinson KIM RET S75 H T Johnstone SWEEP ABS S74 I Lockhart JOE RET S73 S L Davidson ROB RET

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

S72 M McTeir BOB 157 S71 J W Ramsay GLEN RET S70 J Lamont CRAIG RET S69 A D Carnegie DAVE RET S68 F S Renwick ROCI RET S67 P Hetherington LIZ RET S66 L J Clark MIRK RET S65 Mrs M Caul ROSS RET S64 J W Common ROY RET S63 N Gillon BHOY 170 S62 W I McConnell FLY RET S61 N Campbell CASS 163 S60 P Martin MAID (Jenny) 131 S59 W Welsh DON RET S58 L J Cunningham MIST RET S57 A G Kennedy MIRK RET S56 S J Grant KIM 183 S55 S Alexander SCOTT RET S54 A Welsh DAVE 191 S53 I M Brownlie MO RET S52 K Wood CRAIG RET S51 P D Fullerton DEAN RET S50 K Preston GILLY RET

CHARITY SHEEPDOG TRIAL

ALL PROFITS TO THE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY ON SAT 20TH OCTOBER 2012 AT 'STOBSWOOD', LONGFORMACUS, DUNS, TD11 3NT

START TIME AND RUNNING ORDER WILL BE CONFIRMED AT A LATER DATE

CONTACT: ANDREW EMMERSON, SHEPHERD'S COTTAGE, STOBSWOOD FARM, LONGFORMACUS, DUNS, BERWICKSHIRE, TD11 3NT

01361 890 211 / 07776114513 or andysdogs@btinternet.com FIND MORE DETAILS ON FACEBOOK AT:

www.facebook.com/MultipleSclerosisCharitySheepDogTrial IT'S AN 'OPEN' TRIAL SO ANYONE CAN COME AND GET POINTS!

MS Charity Dog Trial at Duns DAY 3 S150 R Meikle ASTRA LYN RET S149 J F McRobert TAFF RET S148 E A J MacLean KIM RET S147 C M Davidson CAP RET S146 R A Welsh MICK RET S145 M C Shearer BOB RET S144 Mrs S Horn JOCK RET S143 C M Magnusson LLANFARIAN JIM 179 S142 A A Aitchison COLL 186 S141 J W Menzies BALEDMUND CHER RET S140 W S Elliot ROD RET S139 Mrs L J Magnusson MEL 133 S138 N F McVicar PODGE 182 S137 N A MacDonald JAKE 191 S136 W A Morrison SKY RET S135 G Thompson RED DIS S134 T Blacklock SWEEP RET S133 A MacDiarmid REX RET S132 J A Common SARN FAEN SION RET S131 H Munro SAL RET S130 A B Mundell VIC 164 S129 J A MacKillop STRAID KEP RET S128 Mrs V Billingham TWEEDHOPE FI RET S127 J MacDonald DON RET S126 Miss J B Main ROY RET S125 I Wilkie NELL (Maid) RET S124 E C Mackinnon NAN 191 S123 D Wallace JEN RET S122 W R J Tod PEG RET S121 J B Ramsay KILCREEN CAP RET S120 J L McMillan DON RET S119 M Priestley LOVAT RET S118 A R Mundell TAFF RET S117 S Montgomery CRAIG RET S116 G R Clark MACK RET S115 D D Campbell NELL RET S114 M MacNally FINN ABS S113 R B Henderson SKID RET S112 Dr K P Freeman BILL RET S111 D A MacIntyre TWIGG DIS S104 C Dickson SCOT RET S103 A Emmerson MIDGE RET S110 D Robertson SWEEP (Shep) RET S109 C Stewart TAN RET S108 D Kinloch WATTIE RET S107 A MacCuish BRANDY (Moss) 175 S106 C A Smart GUY RET S105 K Howlett FLY 147 S102 K R Donald KILLIEBRAE NELL RET S101 A Jardine ELSIE RET

D

og trial enthusiast Andrew Emmerson and his wife Jennifer recently decided to run a dog trial with all proceeds being donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Charity. Jennifer was diagnosed with MS a couple of years ago, so the charity is close to home. Andrew, originally from Skye and Jennifer started their married life at Corsebank, Sanquhar and moved cross country to the Duns in the Scottish Borders in the past year, where Andrew shepherds. The trial is Open, “so anyone from anywhere can enter and gain points,” says Jennifer. “You can enter and pay before the event and we will also be taking entries on the day.” “We only started organising last week and cannot believe the number of people and businesses who have donated to the cause already. We have also set up a facebook page (as in the advert above) to help raise awareness of the event.”

Moniaive Annual Sheepdog Trial Crichen Farm Moniaive, Thornhill DG3 4EQ on

16th September 2012 All Welcome 5


SHEEP

NEW BELTEX LAMB RECORD

Beltex Breaks Lamb Record

T

here was a buzz in Beltex circles at Harrison and Hetherington, Carlisle as Aberdeenshire fireman and Beltex Breeder, Stuart Wood took his turn in the ring. With a starting bid of 2000gns, Woodies Snoop Dog, quickly reached the 10 000gn mark, where it seemed to stick. With a quip that it was insured, bidding took off again, reaching a new Beltex breed record for a lamb of 12 500gns.

An end of January born son of Kingledores Rascal and bred from a Crookstown Hamish sired Ludgate mother, Woodies Snoop Dog won his class, the male champion and reserve supreme the previous day. Stuart, who runs Woodhillock, Skene, picked up second prize at the Royal Highland Show earlier in the year. The McAlister family from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, who farm Artnagullion purchased the lamb.

To advertise in Farming Country please call 016444 60644

EID

NFU

Scotland has backed MEP attempts to modify Europe’s controversial rules on sheep EID. After heavy lobbying from NFUS and fellow farming unions – NFU, NFU Cymru, and the Ulster Farmers Union – a number of MEPs from across the UK have tabled amendments to the Common Agricultural Policy reform process which would introduce an element of tolerance in the EID rules. George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has laid amendments aimed at removing the threat of SFP cross-compliance penalties for farmers who have failed to comply with strict requirements in EID to replace sheep tags lost through no fault of their own. His amendments would also compel the European Commission to introduce guidelines setting out further flexibility for Member States on the implementation of EID rules.

6

8 J


T

esco will soon be stocking more Scotch Lamb in its stores across Scotland as this delicious product comes into season. The move will result in exclusively Scotch Lamb across Tesco’s Finest range from June to December as well as 100 per cent Scotch Lamb across the Tesco core brand year-round. Tesco is already committed to stocking 100 per cent Scotch Lamb on its meat counters.

Adele Davenall-Gabain, buying manager for lamb at Tesco said: "We want to give our customers the best local and regional produce Scotland has to offer, and to work closely with the Scottish farming industry. "Therefore we will be stocking 100 per cent Scotch Lamb in our Finest range in our Scottish stores, from June to December when Scotch lamb is in season. We will also use 100 per cent Scotch Lamb year-round for our

CRAIGNELL For sale at Stirling – 3rd Sept

core Tesco-branded lamb products. "Our Tesco Scotland’s Favourites event, which started on the 13th August marks the start of our commitment, with recipe ideas for Scotch Lamb and information on where you can find your favourite cuts." The news was strongly supported by NFU Scotland. NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: "Having Scotland's biggest retailer commit to having more Scotch Lamb on its shelves is a huge boost to the nation's sheep farmers. Scottish consumers attach huge value to being able to buy food

that has been produced locally.” Over 400 Scottish farmers supply Tesco with fresh quality lamb through supplier McIntosh Donald. Alan McNaughton, Site Director of McIntosh Donald said: “We are delighted Tesco has committed to more Scotch Lamb in its Scottish stores. “This will result in a considerable increase in the volume of Scotch Lamb being produced at our Portlethen site in Aberdeenshire and is also great news for Scottish farmers as this should ensure continued demand for quality Scotch Lamb.”

Clipping & Shearing Blades Sharpened

All Machines and Spares Supplied 8 off 26K Crossflat – 1 off 8K Dyke – 1 off 1600 Loughalsh Jim – 0787 0540824

Michael – 07717661823

Coorie Doon, Bridgend Road, Wandel, Abington, Biggar, ML12 6RR Tel/Fax: 01864 502485 Mob: 07718 911 181

7


BEEF

BEEF MARKETING

Heaven’s Kitchen

“.......turnover of beef has tripled and it looks set to increase even further with the London Beef Cartel now placing regular orders.”

B

arlochan Highland Beef has had a boom during the past year and for owners Nigel and Angela Taylor they've been in the enviable but daunting position of becoming one of Gordon Ramsay's favourite suppliers! While this time last year the couple were content with doing a handful of local farmers' markets and supplying their local shop with steak pies, this year they're supplying Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, one of only four restaurants in the UK to hold 3 Michelin stars. Nigel explains: “As a business, financially, last year it was kind of borderline. Now, it’s all gone crazy! The majority of our beef now goes direct to London supplying Gordon Ramsay's Foxtrot Oscar and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the flagship 3-star Michelin restaurant, where our produce actually appears on the menu as Barlochan Highland Beef. Our turnover of beef has tripled and it looks set to increase even further with the London Beef Cartel now placing regular orders.” The demand for Barlochan Highland Beef was assured after Foxtrot Oscar Head Chef Cary Docherty named it 'the best beef in the world'. The first of Gordon Ramsay's chefs to discover it he has since shared his passion for the Highlander beef with others and demand has soared. Nigel continues: “What’s so amazing is that we didn’t go looking

8

for this business, Cary found us! We didn’t understand the restaurant business well enough to even imagine that our beef could make it onto the tables of one of the top restaurants in the UK. We didn’t even know what 3-star Michelin really meant and to find out that there are only four of them in the UK and that our beef is served at one of them is daunting to say the least! Cary has been brilliant for us. He is passionate about food and works hard to source the best ingredients and then to serve them in a way that lets the food speak for itself." Angela Taylor said: “We are really indebted to Cary and to Claire

by Lorna Young

Smyth, Head Chef at Ramsays, for the help they have given us. One of the highlights was last Autumn when both chefs helped us achieve the BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award. This meant that Barlochan Highland Beef was on show for five days in front of nearly 100,000 people. It was awesome! We had five staff on the stand and still struggled to keep up. So much has happened in the last twelve months, it’s been a wonderful roller coaster ride." Nigel credits their success with a passionate belief in the quality of Dumfries & Galloway produce. "We have some of the best food

products and raw ingredients right here in this region, and you have to believe this to be able to sell it. Okay, we had some very fortunate breakthroughs, along with some extraordinary help from Gordon Ramsay’s team, but it’s all about having the best product and absolutely believing in it.” As well as supplying top London restaurants, Barlochan Highland Beef continue to trade regularly at markets in Dumfries & Galloway including Dumfries Farmers' Market, Colvend Producers Market, Creetown Produce Market, New Cample Market and at Wigtown Market when stock allows.


Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

9


DAIRY

LIVESTOCK EVENT

Ayrshire Herd Makes Final Six

N

MR and RABDF have named six dairy businesses as finalists in this year’s Gold Cup. They will compete for the industry’s top award, which will be presented at the Livestock Show, NEC on Tuesday September 4. The six herds, who fought off competition from 454 qualifying herds in this year’s Gold Cup are: • Lawrie Bros, Sandyford, Monkton, Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland • David and Louise Hodgson, Wormanby Farm, Burgh by Sands, Carlisle • Mike, Shan, Paul and Steve Miller, Greville Hall Farm, Evesham, Worcestershire • Neil Christensen, Steanbow Farms, Shepton Mallet, Somerset • Tim Gue, Huddlestone Farm, Horsham Road, Steyning, W Sussex • Matthew Rowe, Great Tredinnick Farm, Liskeard, Cornwall Starting in the north, Gilmour Lawrie took on the farm at Monkton, Ayr after the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic. Today half the 240 Brieryside cows are red-and-white with the remainder pure Ayrshire. Now farming with his son Kevin and in partnership with his brother Jim, there are plans to increase numbers to 300 cows along with forage and cereal cropping of the 445 hectares. To accommodate this expansion the cow housing is being extended with a new building providing 50 more cubicles and housing a new rapid-exit milking parlour with heat detectors and other management aids to help improve herd fertility. Fundamental to the herd’s breeding policy is retaining the attributes of the Ayrshire, with milk quality and longevity being vital characteristics. Of the herd, 52% have had four or more lactations. The herd’s average for the Gold Cup qualifying year ending September 2011 was 9359kg of milk at 4% fat and 3.37% protein on three times-a-day milking. Cell count averaged 121,000 cells/ml. Milk is sold at a premium to First Milk in Girvan on a Nestle contract, which goes to make chocolate crumb to coat Kit-Kat biscuits. David and Louise Hodgson’s 145-cow Wormanby Holstein herd is

10

based at Burgh by Sands in Cumbria. Cows here are bred for longevity, which means that as well as milk sales from their 145 milkers, the Hodgsons have up to 40 newly calved heifers for sale annually along with breeding bulls, amounting to a third of the business’ gross income. David and his father Harry currently manage the cattle themselves, with some relief help, on the 122 hectares. Now, with a new cubicle house for 105 cows, most of the milking herd is housed year-round. Deep soft sand is used for bedding, which is proving far cheaper than straw. And the new housing has also helped to lift production by 500kg a cow with only six cases of mastitis in the past 12 months since they started using the building. For the qualifying Gold Cup year ending September 2011 the herd averaged 10,761kg of milk at 3.76% fat and 3.12% protein on twice a day milking. The current cell count is 128,000/ml with a Bactoscan of 23. Milk is sold to Arla on a liquid contract. Evesham producers, Mike and Shan Miller and sons Paul and Steven run the 320-cow Shanael herd on the 336 hectare tenanted unit. Management of the farm is overseen by Mike, with Shan looking after the calves and accounts and Steve and Paul taking on cropping and cows respectively. During the past 12 months they have increased herd size and taken on more land. And they have also stepped up fertility and health management. By the end of 2012 they should be ‘fully stocked’ with 350 cows. Paul is pleased to see an improvement in calving interval to the current 410 days following improvements in heat detection and routine vet visits to every two weeks, monitoring individual cows and trends through InterHerd. NMR annual average production for the Gold Cup qualifying year ending September 2011 is 12,199kg of milk, 535kg higher than the previous year, at 3.6% fat and 3.08% protein on three times-a-day milking. Milk is sold to Cotteswold Dairy in

Tewkesbury under a liquid contract. Neil Chrissen from Somerset milks 517 Holstein cows at Steanbow Farms, Somerset, where he farms in partnership with his father Finn and his brother Michael. With 200ha of pasture taken up by the famous Glastonbury Festival each summer, the family made a drastic change to the farm strategy about five years ago. They opted to house the cows all year round. Heifers remain on the farm for their first year, and are contract reared for the second year, before calving at just over two years old. Changes were also made to the dry cow ration to combat high potassium levels in the grass. Investment in a slurry store and calving buildings has improved the working of the unit. Now they are aiming to improve milk production from forage and driving for more efficiency by doing everything a little bit better. Since moving the cows indoors they have paid close attention to cow comfort. They mobility score once a week, trim the cows’ feet three times a year, and foot dip them after every evening milking. Production in the qualifying year to September 2011 for the herd averaged 10,521kg of milk at 3.78% fat and 3.13% protein on three times a day milking. Cell counts averaged 104,000 cells/ml and the calving interval stands at 387 days. Milk is sold on Dairy Crest’s Sainsburys contract. Tim and Marion Gue from West Sussex manage the Huddlestone pedigree herd, based at Steyning with help from four full-time staff, including two herd managers. The Gues place great importance on team management and believe that in order to run such a large herd, a good team and a sound management system, have to be in place. Day-to-day tasks are split between his two herd managers. One focuses on health management, including mastitis, and calving. The other is charged with foot trimming and record keeping. Fertility is a vital area of herd management and benefits from having both their eyes on the ball – they share responsibility here.

The herd calves from August through to April and is fed a TMR, formulated by Marion, all year round. Average production stands at 11,058kg of milk – around 250 kg per cow more than in 2011 – at 3.82% butterfat and 3.12% protein on three-times-a-day milking. Average cell count for the year ending September 2011 was 117,000 cells/ml with a herd PLI of 77 – one of the highest among this year’s Gold Cup finalists. Milk is sold to Tesco via Arla. Matthew Rowe from Cornwall milks 360 cows in partnership with his parents at Tredinnick Farms near Liskeard. The 228-hectare unit adjoins Bodmin Moor, creating challenges for pasture management. In 2011 they built a new shed for 150 cows, to improve welfare and create space to expand into. The plan is to increase cow numbers to 400 by the end of 2012. The Holstein herd averages between 3.2 and four lactations. In the Gold Cup qualifying year, ending September 2011, they averaged 8,956kg of milk at 4.13% fat and 3.22% protein on twice a day milking with a cell count of 189,000 cells/ml and Bactoscan of 30. The aim is to increase yields to between 9500 and 10,000kg during the next 12 to 18 months, mainly through improving cow health and longevity. Matthew also wants to increase milk from forage which is currently at about 2500 litres. Cows at Tredinnick calve all year round and split the herd into three groups, comprising dry cows, heifers and older cows. The six NMR/RABDF Gold Cup finalists will be judged by David Cotton, Chairman, RABDF, Bryan Thomas, ex-director, NMR, and 2009 Gold Cup winner Geoff Spence. The winner of the NMR/RABDF Gold Cup 2012 will be announced at the Dairy Event, NEC on Tuesday September 4 on the NMR stand at 4.30pm along with the winner of the NMR Silver Salver to the runner up and the Chris May Memorial Salver, which will be awarded to the Gold Cup qualifying herd with the highest average lifetime daily yield.

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


DAIRY

NFUS

Strategy Group Receives interim Report

A

clear opportunity exists for the Scottish dairy industry to tap into valuable export markets according to an interim report presented to the Scottish dairy strategy working group. The paper, prepared for the group by Scottish Development International – Scottish Enterprise’s international arm – and Scotland Food & Drink, states that there is a growing world dairy market for dairy products, with good provenance, of the type that Scotland can produce. Branding, market research and investment are required but opportunities for Scottish dairy produce exist in niche, value added and premium markets. The report cites the export success of the Irish Dairy Board as a model that merits further examination. It concludes that investing in the development of value added products and markets will play an important part in revenue generation; building value into the Scottish dairy supply chain, increasing milk producers’ confidence in the industry and reducing milk processors’ current

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

reliance on domestic giant retailers. Following the meeting, further work on the interim report will now be undertaken before final publication. The group – which includes representatives from the Scottish Government, Scottish Development International (SDI), Scotland Food & Drink, Dairy UK and NFU Scotland – will then share the report with the Scottish dairy supply chain. The vision is to create a strong Scottish brand for milk and dairy products that makes inroads into the European and global dairy market. NFU Scotland Vice President, Allan Bowie said: “Huge potential exists in world markets for dairy. While companies have started to tap into demand for commodity dairy products, scope is there for adding value and developing the Scottish brand. Scottish dairy farmers will look at the success of whisky, salmon and beef in selling the Scottish story and believe that our dairy produce can make it into the same premier league. That requires all parties to buy into this report and start looking seriously at the opportunities overseas.

“In the same way that we are asking dairy farmers to look at routes to better collaboration through the umbrella of Dairy Farmers Together, there is the potential for parts of the Scottish dairy supply chain to pull together to realise the potential that exists in export markets.” Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This interim report confirms that potentially lucrative export opportunities exist for the Scottish dairy sector. Our task now is to ensure we take advantage of our burgeoning international reputation as a land of food and drink to fully exploit these opportunities. “By working together our salmon industry has shown what can be achieved in a short period of time and I hope that the dairy sector can work with SDI to mirror that level of success in overseas markets.” Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive, James Withers said: “With a foundation of efficient producers and world class production, Scotland is superbly placed to serve a growing global market for dairy products. The interim work we’ve done so far

emphasises this and starts to develop our roadmap to grow the Scottish industry’s presence on the world stage. “The formula of premium products and strong provenance is a winning one for the nation’s other food and drinks sectors. The time is right for the dairy industry in this country to move in the same direction and I believe a collaboration between industry and government can make it happen.” Dairy UK’s Scottish Director, Kirk Hunter said: “SDI’s research confirms that consumers around the world are increasing their demand for dairy products. If we can get our act together there are exciting opportunities for Scotland’s dairy industry to capitalise on these expanding markets. Dairy is already one of the major exporting sectors within Scotland’s food and drink sector. This is a solid platform for us to build on. We now need to move forward quickly, collaborate effectively within the supply chain and be willing to learn from the successes of other Scottish food and drink industries in export markets.”

11


DAIRY NEW PRODUCTS

Glenside Launches New Licks

T

he Glenside Group (Stand FF404 at Livestock 2012) is launching a new range of seaweed-based licks to help livestock farmers keep their stock in optimum health. This new range of licks is based on the company’s Seaquim seaweed meal, a high quality product made from freshly harvested Hebridean seaweed containing over 60 elements, as well as amino acids and vitamins. Farmers have been using Seaquim and the old Seaquim bucket range to balance livestock diets for many years, but have been increasingly demanding products tailored to their individual needs, says Ian Robertson,

Managing Director of Glenside: “This new range will offer users the option of licks containing enhanced levels of elements like copper, zinc, cobalt, magnesium and selenium, so that farmers can use them to address particular shortages that might be occurring on their individual farms. We can also add other ingredients like garlic, which is proven to help ward off flies. “Farm trials have produced some excellent results, with early users reporting that livestock take to the licks easily and their health and condition benefits as a result”. The new licks are available in 25kg or 100Kg plastic buckets.

Improved Backing Gate

D

airy Spares has re-launched an improved model of the Goossen Backing Gate – instead of rails there is a lightweight mesh barrier, which is electrifiable. It is suspended from a metal overhead central track, making it simpler and cheaper to install than gates, which need bolting to the collecting yard walls. The barrier can also be raised to pass back over incoming animals and save time. With the Goossen Backing Gate system, an alarm sounds as the gate moves the cows forward to the parlour. The gate can be electrified to encourage new cows in the herd to move forward, although after time,

12

they learn to respond to the alarm. The gate is controlled from a panel installed at the end of the milking pit. For safety, the gate only moves forward when a button is pressed and held. In reverse mode, the gate automatically travels to the rear of the yard without the need to continuously press the button. A remote control option is also available for raising and lowering the gate, which is useful for the driver of the scraper tractor. The Goossen Backing Gate is custom-made for each situation: the cost of a fitted 7m (24ft) wide gate for a 24m (80ft) deep collecting yard, would be £8,500.

Relaunched Trimmer LIGHT, fast and robust the new Tailwell2 Power Tail Trimmer can be used on a drill with a 14v battery unit. Being launched at the Livestock and Dairy Event, Sept 4/5 by distributors Agrihealth, stand LE244, this nifty machine with a unique NZ design totally trims a tail in 10 secs! A huge step forward in maintaining high standards of hygiene and animal health as tail docking was banned in ‘06. Cylindrical cutters give an all

round trim from one pass up the tail with no risk of cuts to animal or operator. Weighing less than half a kilo this easy to use, easy to service Tailwell2 Power Tail Trimmer makes tail trimming in milking parlour or cattle crush speedier, simpler and safer. Recommended Retail Price £295. For details of stockists contact Agrihealth Ltd, Freephone; 0800 731 2490 or e mail info@argihealth.co.uk Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


Grain Drier Fires

Worm Exposure in 68% of dairy herds

B

ulk milk surveillance for stomach worm exposure in dairy cows has found high levels in 68% of herds, with “probable sub-clinical effects on health and production,” according to the test guidelines. Between September 2011 and March this year, 449 milk samples submitted by dairy vets and SQP animal health advisers were analysed independently for Pfizer VPS and the programme continues. Stomach worm (Ostertagia ostertagi) is the species identified most often in dairy cows and known to suppress appetite, explains Pfizer VPS vet Andrew Montgomery. “Numerous trials have found a yield response to worming treatment, typically in the region of

1kg/cow/day,” he says. “At 25p/litre, this would be worth £76/cow over a 305-day lactation, or about £16,500/year in a typical 200-cow herd. Some trials have also identified improvements in reproductive performance although this remains to be proven absolutely.” When test results indicate that worming is justified, Mr Montgomery recommends a moxidectin pour on treatment in the late dry period to maximise the gain over the highest yielding, early part of lactation. The bulk milk surveillance programme is ongoing and free Pfizer test kits are available from participating VPS animal medicine suppliers and veterinary practices.

Tag & Test

T

he proposed ban on the movement of cattle known to be persistently infected (PI) with BVD means that it is increasingly important for Scottish farmers to be aware of the disease status of their herd. A new scheme launched in conjunction with SAC will allow early identification and action in order to comply with future legislation. Fearing has recently launched a ‘Tag and Test’ service that allows farmers to take tissue samples from newborn calves and identify PI animals in less than a week. The Geno tags collect a sample of ear tissue in a hermetically sealed, tamper-proof container with a unique identifier to ensure full traceability. The samples are sent for analysis to

C

hartered loss adjuster, Agrical, warns of the potential increase in grain dryer fires because of the consistent inclement weather. Nigel Collinson, managing director at Agrical explains: "Farmers in the midst of the harvest are under pressure to get the crops in as quickly as possible to avoid them being spoilt as the weather continues to be changeable. This means the harvested crops are likely to have higher moisture content and grain dryers will be working around the clock so the crops can be stored or sold. "Grain moisture content needs to be around 15%, anything above requires drying. Whilst farmers will look to maintain their dryers before the harvest season starts, potential fires could be prevented by regular maintenance and cleaning during the drying time. If a dryer is working long hours each day it can overheat,

parts can get worn quickly and chaff can build up in the machine - these are potential fire hazards. "Where at all possible, farmers should look to give the grain dryer some downtime to allow for cleaning out and checking over. We appreciate its difficult and the weather seems to be against farmers this harvest but even if they are fully insured a grain dryer fire can be extremely inconvenient and may have other c onsequential impacts. "It is essential that a suitable number of appropriate fire extinguishers are placed near the dryer in case a fire starts." On average Agrical will visit upwards of 50 grain dryer fires a year and see first-hand the devastation they can cause - the fire can spread to buildings, stored crops and machinery. Often these fires can result in losses which run to six figure sums.

SAC laboratories and the results are returned within 5 working days to both the farmer and his vet. “The Scottish Government consultation document clearly states that if PI cattle are removed from the national herd, BVD will be eradicated,” said George Caldow, Vet Manager with the SAC and BVD expert. “Making it easy to integrate testing with a routine process such as tagging newborn calves helps farmers identify the culprits early on.” The Fearing Geno tag is available as part of a Ministry Approved pair and the cost to farmers is £5.99 including the BVD test. For more information, call Fearing Customer Service on 01604 881491 or visit www.fearing.co.uk.

Letter

Angus on the Up in OZ

Dear Editor, With reference to the fabulous World Record attempt by fifty of the country’s largest tractors, Case IH Quadtracs, ploughing in one field at the same time on 29 July, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who took part. To Helen Rainthorpe, Neil Maddison and the team at JJR Farms for masterminding it, to all those Quadtrac owners who travelled from all over the UK at a busy time of the year to make it happen, to everyone who attended on the day to witness this spectacular event, and lastly, to those who have generously donated (at the time of writing) over £27,000 to Cancer Research UK. The sight of fifty monster tractors with headlights blazing and the sounds of the powerful engines and horns blaring was breath-taking and the Guinness World Record is a fine tribute to Helen’s father, John, who sadly died from cancer two years ago and donations can still be made via www.quadtracrecord.co.uk. Many thanks to everyone. You were all great. Yours sincerely Charles Blessley Case IH

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

A

ngus Australia plan to shift more bulls into northern Australia with the development of an online tool to help beef producers in non-temperate climates better manage Bos Taurus-Bos Indicus crossbreeding programs. The organisation's project officer Ken Bryan, who has been gaining feedback from producers throughout North Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern WA on their experience using Angus bulls, says Angus Australia is aiming to release the interactive web based program by the end of the year. “Producers using the program will be able to enter data relevant to their

location and enterprise and the program would then make a recommendation on how best to manage Angus bulls in their operation. “It's about identifying the main stressors that can affect Angus bull performance in the north and then putting management plans in place to extend their working life," said Ken. The work was commissioned by Angus Australia at a time when it was widely accepted the national herd was moving north and towards the 30M head mark by 2013, while proportionately greater numbers of Angus bulls were still being sold to buyers in southern Australia.

13


THE CUTTING EDGE

EATING QUALITY

Olympic Gold for Beef Farmers

T

he “Olympic effect” this summer may well have exacerbated the seasonal swing in beef prices by generating higher demand at the start of July followed by a more significant tail-off at the end of the month. Cattle prices remain close to an historic high but eased during July despite tight supplies and falling numbers of cattle at Scottish auction markets and abattoirs. Normally tight supplies result in some lift in price but, according to Iain Macdonald, Economics Analyst with Quality Meat Scotland, there are a number of factors which may explain the price slippage this year. “First of all, there is a seasonal factor at play,” said Mr Macdonald. “Producer prices tend to dip in late July when weekly slaughter numbers tend to be at their lowest. Demand for beef weakens significantly during this period and prices slip back as processors are better placed to cover their reduced requirements.” However, this year it looks likely the Olympic Games may also have played a significant part in the equation. “Demand for the beef needed to supply spectators is likely to have peaked three or four weeks prior to the commencement of the Olympic Games. If demand peaked at the beginning of July, this fits with recent price movements. “Deadweight beef prices rose through June and reached a record high of 358.3p/kg in the first week of July, before sliding back to 353.6p/kg

14

by the end of the month. With tight cattle supplies so far this year, increased competition between processors to supply beef to meet Olympics-related demand may well have contributed to this pick-up in price followed by the tail-off at the end of July.” However, while the Olympics may have had an effect, he said it is also important to consider the impact of the wider economic environment on demand. “The British economy appears to be stuck in a vicious circle that is difficult to break. With the economy back in recession, 5% smaller than in 2008, many businesses have been reluctant to invest and/or expand workforces and households have subsequently been cautious, leading to weak demand for firms’ goods and services. “The dampening effect of a stronger Sterling and the well-documented economic problems in Europe on UK exports has proved particularly problematic given that policymakers have prescribed an export-led recovery to offset weak domestic activity.” Perhaps the principle factor restraining domestic activity has been falling household disposable income, as inflation has been running well above earnings growth since April 2010. Though consumer prices inflation has fallen back from 5.2% last September, at 2.4% in June, it was still well above the 1.5% growth in average earnings reported for the three months to May. The squeeze

on incomes has been exacerbated by the rising prices of items that consumers purchase most often, such as, fuel, energy and food. Consequently, many households have had to cut back on discretionary purchases and trade down towards cheaper items. In this economic environment, beef consumption has suffered. Data from market research organisation, Kantar, shows that purchased volumes have been pushed lower by strong growth in retail prices. In the 12 weeks to July 8 beef consumption declined by 3% year-on-year. Retail beef prices have been growing at double-digit proportions since December 2011 as the supply chain has attempted to recoup the extra cost, which it has had to pay to source raw material. This was the result of a 21% increase in producer prices between February

and November 2011 and in addition higher energy and distribution costs have had to be covered. “However, there is some prospect of improving beef demand towards the year-end,” said Mr Macdonald. “Cattle supplies are expected to improve slightly in the latter part of the year, as the effects of increased calvings during late 2010 and into 2011 begin to arrive on the market. This may allow some stabilisation in retail prices which, when compared with year earlier levels, will reduce the year-on-year increase in retail price and hard pressed consumers will, hopefully, perceive better value for money.” Mr Macdonald also pointed out that if headline rates of inflation in the UK economy continue to subside some modest recovery in overall consumer spending may be encouraged.

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


MONITOR FARM

LIVESTOCK FARMERS

Meet the Monitor Farmers Troloisk – Isle of Mull, Argyll

FARM FACTS Farmer:

Iain and Helen MacKay

Farming: Troloisk Farm

T

he Mull Monitor Farm at Torloisk run by Iain Mackay was established following a request from the Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum and held its first meeting in the spring of 2011. With an aim of improving the efficiency and profitability of the unit and farms on Mull the regular meetings have proved to be popular with local farmers. Agreed aims on Torloisk are to improve lambing percentage and output, increase the productivity of the in-bye ground and to review the cattle enterprise with suggested options from the group, which have allowed a wide range of topics with relevant practical demonstrations in the past year. Taking on the challenge of developing the in-bye ground, three fields were identified in 2011 for improvement with the aim of establishing and supporting a more

productive low-ground flock to increase the productivity from sheep on the unit. The community group of farmers were able to visit these fields over the year assessing establishment, costs and effectiveness. Actions in each have allowed the establishment of field comparisons to provide the group with physical examples to assess success. The fields all established successfully with increased production from the ground allowing a crop of silage to be taken, flushing of ewes and finishing of lambs. Subsequent issues have been identified confirming the importance of good management of these areas in year two. Additional fields have also been earmarked for improvement in the summer of 2012, to continue the process and a review of the overall sheep performance at the end of the project to assess productivity improvements.

Location: Ulva Ferry, Isle of Mull, Argyll Area:

Cattle:

3100 ha: 2880ha tenanted 220ha rented, seasonal basis 51 Highland cows Stock Bulls – Highland, Simmy

Sheep:

400 Blackface ewes 400 BF X Cheviot ewes 50 Cheviot Stud ewes lambs Tups

Crops:

15ha Silage 3ha Forage Rape 117ha Rough Permanent Grazing 2965ha Rough Hill Grazing

Elevation: Sea level up to a max of 350m Facilitators: Niall Campbell & Donald MacKinnon Funded by: Started:

9th March 2011

Glenacardoch – Glenbarr, Argyll FARM FACTS Farmer:

Duncan & Fiona Macalister

Farming: Glenacardoch, Glenbarr Farms Location: Glenbarr, Tarbert, Argyll Area:

1720acres owned

Cattle:

115 AA X cows outwintered 20 AA X Bulling Heifers 22 AA X in-calf Heifers 4 stock bulls – all AA 122 calves

Sheep:

300 Greyface & Llyen ewes 300 Blackface ewes 22 Suffolk, Cheviot & Llyen tups 650 lambs, all finished off grass & forage rape

. Crops:

295acres Temporary Grass 205acers Permanent Grass 520acres Rough Hill Grazing 100acres Spring Barley 20acres Fodder Rape 600acres in trees

Elevation:0 - 275 ft above sea level Facilitators: Linda McLean & Alan Boulton Funded by: QMS Started:

16 March 2011

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

G

lenbarr Farms consists of three separate units farmed as one business. The land is predominantly in grass. The two business enterprises are a 135cow herd of Angus cross cows and 600 blackface and Lleyn cross ewes. The cattle are spring calving with all the progeny finished on farm, mostly off grass. The sheep are split between an intensive flock lambing early inside and a more extensive flock lambing outside later. All of the lambs are finished on farm off grass and rape. Cows are wintered outside until calving with the sheds used mainly for the finishing cattle in their first winter. The farm grows 40ha of barley partly to combine and partly as whole crop silage to supplement the grass silage, most of which is a single cut. Feed purchases of up to 25t of soya, 50t of grain balancer and 5 t of beet pulp are mainly protein balancers and minerals to compliment the prop-corned barley and silage. As one of two monitor farms established, following a request from the Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum, Glenbarr farms operated by Duncan Macalister has proved a popular choice for the community group of farmers on the Kintyre

peninsula. Having established areas of focus for the project through use of a whole farm review and SWOT analysis it has been Duncan himself who has highlighted areas of importance, which have generated interesting meetings for the group. A concern expressed during initial reviews that soil structure issues may be limiting the effects of expensive efforts to improve production. To allow decisions to be taken on revision of the cultivation programme soil specialist James Bretherton was invited to assess soils on the farm and focus on fields needing improvement with the group. James introduced the group to the real thing by digging sample pits and visually assessing and “smelling” the soil. In one field sour

smells and little structure in the soil indicated anaerobic conditions and a lack of organic structure as a result of over cultivation. A recommendation was made to shallow plough and reseed to a ley for several years for roots to aerate the soil and develop some structure. James summarised for the group the importance of understanding and managing the soil on farm as a resource to provide benefits in all areas from crop growth, fertiliser management and livestock efficiency. As a result of the full assessment Glenbarr farms have already made major changes to their cultivation policy ranging from shallower ploughing to use of a sward lifter and mixing of magnesium and calcium lime.

15


MONITOR FARM

LIVESTOCK FARMERS FARM FACTS Farmer:

Westfield Farm – Thurso, Caithness

Johnny MacKenzie

Farming: Westfield Farm Location: Thurso, Caithness

O

ne of the main aims of the Monitor Farmer, Johnny Mackenzie, was to sell all calves as yearlings to avoid summering. Prior to the Monitor farm project, Westfield only sold the best of their store cattle in April with the remainder having to be kept over the summer months on rented grazing. The Monitor Farm Community group felt this was an added cost and the feeding regime could possibly be improved to enable all store cattle to be sold in April and reduce the requirement for seasonal grazing. The group felt action was required following the results of the previous Table 1 - Westfield Suckler Cows 2010 v 2011 Per Cow

Westfield 2011

Westfield 2010

Output Variable Costs Gross Margin before forage Gross Margin after forage Fixed Costs Net Margin

£617.44 £161.03 £456.41 £369.42 £310.29 £59.13

£422.00 £108.00 £314.00 £258.00 £366.21 -£108.50

FARM FACTS Farmer:

Robbie & Kirsty Newlands & his father Robbie

Farming: Cluny Location: Rafford, Forres Area:

1000 acres 70 acres at Broicklochj

Cattle:

150 Bel Blue X beef cows 33 BB X Bulling Heifers 6 stock bulls – 5 Char, 1 Lim

Sheep:

650 Mule ewes 19 Suffolk Tups 900 -1000 lambs, all finished

. Crops:

10.5ha Swedes 60ha Spring Barley 45ha Hay 10ha Stubble Turnips 64ha woodland & whins

Elevation:150- 650ft above sea level Facilitators: Peter Cook & Colin Anderson Funded by: Started:

16

June 2010

N

ow entering its third and final year the Moray and Nairn Monitor farm hosted by the Newlands family has proved a positive challenge for the management group and facilitators driven by host farmer and community group eager to ensure a successful future for their businesses. There has been a regular attendance of over fifty farmers from the community group at meetings and in excess of a hundred attended the open evening held in July. Whilst advantage was taken of the weather allowing a trailer tour to see the lie of the land and groups of British Blue cows and their calves the real focus of the evening was on the groups run by the facilitator and community group members highlighting the actions and changes on Health Strategy, Improving the Sheep, The Suckler System (outdoor wintering and calving), Intensive Finishing and Recording Performance. In each case there were examples of

years QMS benchmarking, which showed Westfield with a negative net margin per cow of £108.50. Following silage analysis an improved feeding regime was devised with increased daily live weight gain targets than had previously been used on Westfield. Animals were penned according to size to try to improve growth rates across all sizes of animals. • The output per cow has risen dramatically due to the improved weights and quality of the young stock sold off Westfield in the spring of 2011. • Variable costs have risen due to this but have been offset in some way by the reduced costs of seasonal grazing which was required in the past. • Careful management of fixed costs has also been a factor in turning a considerable negative net margin per cow in 2010 to a satisfactory positive of £59.13 in 2011. The project at Westfield is due to finish in February 2013 but the farm is also involved in ongoing work with the PARABAN project in relation to Johnes disease.

small scale farm trials taking place and an adherence to using figures. Robbie has used simple software to maintain business records and has also focussed on recording technical information that is relevant, which has proved a real opportunity for the community group to drill down and assess the performance of enterprises whilst also encouraging simple field trials. These have included several assessing protein in the bull diets and the effect of introducing protein to the calf creep on weaning weights. The availability of figures from Robbie has encouraged the group to share theirs and a sub group of ten producers has been established providing their own data for their beef enterprises, which has allowed in depth comparison between differing systems. All members believe this has helped them assess the options for their business in light of future changes in support mechanisms. The conclusions are that record-keeping is worthwhile if it’s simple, repeatable, accurate (e.g. need a weigh crate!) and used responsibly. As Robbie summarised “the great thing about the Monitor Farm is the experience of the community group – some members provided their figures and experience and helped us to come to conclusions for Cluny”

Area:

acres owned 410ha rented seasonally

Cattle:

280 suckler cows

Sheep:

460 ewes

Crops:

23ha cropped 109ha temporary grazing 60ha permanent grazing 31ha rough grazing 176ha environmental schemes 410ha rented seasonally

Elevation:up to 100m above sea level Facilitators: Derek Hanton & Willie Budge Funded by: QMS & Scottish Government, & Allans of Gillock, ANM, WD Cormack & Sons, Caithness Livestock breeders, Mey Selections, W&A Geddes, DS McGregor and Partners, NFU Scotland & NFU Mutual Started:

24th February 2010

Cluny Farm – Forres, Moray & Nairn


Lost Farm – Strathdon, Aberdeenshire

L

ost comprises 4 units spread around Strathdon with a 20 mile round trip. George and Charles Gordon became the second monitor farm hosts in the Cairngorms National Park following the Park farmers’ forum identifying the need for a unit to reflect the challenges of farming within the park and to include more focus on sheep. George Gordon is chairman of the Strathdon Agricultural association, which runs a small machinery ring and this willingness to work together for financial benefit was immediately carried through to sharing information with the group. The benefit of early testing analysis has been in seen in the first year of the project: Poor growth rates in the lambs and some sudden deaths indicated a major health issue and following up faecal egg counts with post mortems of the livers of the dead lambs helped identify a major Liver Fluke problem. Dr Philip Skuce from Moredun Research Institute and David Miskelly from Woodside vets joined the second meeting of the group to discuss the results and devise a plan for treatment, management and future testing in the cattle and sheep. This included blood

testing cattle at the same time as testing for BVD to get a snapshot of antibody levels to Liver Fluke. The community group thought it was very important to establish the fertility status of the soil and improve where required. The business has rarely carried out soil analysis and so sixty eight of the improved fields were sampled by conventional methods and 5 fields resampled using GPS methods. The results of the former soil analyses showed the majority of fields to be in poor condition with low PH levels The GPS tests gave similar results, but showed a better distribution of pH values within the field. As a result of the soil analyses lime has been applied to fields that are to be cropped or reseeded. The fields that have been sampled by GPS have been spread using GPS machinery allowing cost effective targeted spreading. The project receives funding input from the Cairngorm National Park Authority (CNPA). This interest has been reflected by a recent visit from the CNPA Board members which proved a great insight for them when discussing the uncertainty of CAP reform and its effect on Land Management by estate owners and their tenants.

FARM FACTS Farmer:

George & Charles Gordon

Farming: Lost Farm Location: Strathdon, Aberdeenshire Area: Cattle:

457ha acres tenanted 100 Simm X suckler cows 60 bought in bulling Heifers 90 Store cattle 6 Stock Bulls – 2 Char, 2Simm, 2 Limousin

Sheep:

920 BFL & Mule ewes 1400 lambs 25 Tups - Lleyns, Suffolk, Texel

Crops:

24ha Spring Barley 6ha Turnips

Grassland:68ha Temporary 219ha Permanent Grazing 140ha Rough Grazing 9ha Environmental Schemes Elevation: 304m to 550m above sea level Facilitators: Alister Laing & David Ross Funded by: QMS & Cairngorm National Park Authority Started:

30th November 2011

Mains of Thornton – Inverurie, Aberdeenshire FARM FACTS Farmer:

Brothers Leslie & Kenneth Cooper, with their sons Murray & Mark & mother Margaret

Farming: Mains of Thornton Location: Bourtie, Inverurie Area:

360ha owned

Cattle:

104 AA X Limousin cows 15 Bulling Heifers 3 stock bulls – 2 AA, 1 Limmy 100 calves, sold @ as organic all finished

Sheep:

950 Texel & Charollais X ewes 25 Texel & Charollais Tups 1500 lambs, all finished off grass, neeps & rape

. Crops:

210ha Rotational Grass 16ha Permanent Grass 50ha Spring Barley 4ha Spring Oats 20ha Stubble Turnips

Facilitators: Maggie Magee & Debs Roberts Funded by: QMS, Skills Development Scheme & Scottish Organic Producers Association Started:

14 January 2011

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

F

ollowing a successful organic monitor farm project in Perthshire there was support for the establishment of another unit to reflect the on-going CAP changes and relevant challenges and opportunities within the reform for an organic unit in Scotland. Funding from the Skills Development Scheme within SRDP, Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) allowed the Cooper family to be chosen as hosts with the first meeting held in early 2011. An interesting element of the project has been the plan to hold one meeting a year away from Mains of Thornton on units elsewhere allowing more farmers to gain knowledge related to Organic farming throughout Scotland. Most recently this was held at Fala Mains nr Pathhead, Midlothian where demonstrations and discussions focussed on sheep health and EID in sheep were discussed. Of particular interest was the Moredun work on Targeted Selected Treatment (TST) for parasite control in sheep flocks. Back home in Inverurie the Cooper family hosted a very successful open evening in July where the community group and interested farmers and businesses were able to find out more about the monitor farm and actions

undertaken. In common with the majority of farms in the programme there has been a focus on soil and forage analysis to assess the quality of the ground and the crops produced on it. In addition the Coopers have worked with the group to identify suitable winter feed options for the livestock. This has included a suggestion from an earlier meeting of establishing some a multi-crop to assess it’s usefulness. The Coopers are expecting multi-cropping to provide silage for winter feeding, aftermath grazing for finishing lambs, flushing ewes in the late back end and then overwintering for lambs and ewes as well. With advice from Ian Eadie of British Seed Houses home saved oats and barley have been under sown with the hybrid brassicas Swift and Redstart. An August cut of wholcrop will be stored using AgBag with the contractor monitoring the yield. A lie back, of 10 acres sown to Westerwold, will be provided for ewes and lambs which has the potential of 50-60% re growth following the harvest. The Coopers aim to keep records on how many ‘mouths’ the crop can feed as it could be a useful crop to help reduce imported feed costs. However they admit to being on a learning curve to

see how crop can be managed to optimise cutting and grazing and maintaining brassica cover. Those at the open day expressed interest in monitoring the success of the crop over the remainder of 2012.

17


MONITOR FARM

DAIRY FARMERS FARM FACTS Farmer:

Carcary Farms – Brechin, Angus

Sandy Milne

Farming: Carcary Farms and East Pitforthie Location: Farnell, Brechin, Angus Area:

D

airyCo’s Carcary Monitor Farm focussed on achieving numerous herd health targets over the past year including increasing the herd’s overall health and animal welfare status, a reduction in calving interval and age at first calving as well as an increase in herd numbers. The Milne family, Sandy and wife, Emma, father, Ian and mother, Dawn, own the 370 Carcary Holstein herd at

Brechin, Angus. The 1,250 acre arable and dairy business operates over two neighbouring units; 600 acres at Carcary Farm and 650 acres at East Pitforthie Farm, where the dairy unit is situated. In 2009, the family milked 342 Holsteins and set a target to increase herd numbers to 370 over the next 24 months. Carcary has also placed particular emphasis on reducing the

Hillhead – Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire

D

airyCo’s Hillhead Monitor Farm achieved numerous set FARM FACTS targets over the past year including the establishment of a new dairy unit; an increase in herd Farmer: William Fleming numbers, an increase in milk yield, a Farming: Hillhead reduction in calving interval and an Location: Kirkpartrick-Fleming, Lockerbie increase in margin over purchased feed. Dumfriesshire Willie Fleming and his father and mother Robert and Margaret, run the Area: 320 acres (120ac rented) 250 acre Hillhead Farm at Kirkpatrick Fleming, Dumfries. The business also Cows: 280 milking cows rents an additional 120 acres of 100 young stock neighbouring land for silage and Sheep: 16 young-stock purposes. In 2010, the family set a target to Crops: 60 acres arable establish a dairy unit on a green field 180 acres intensive grassland site by 2011 and increase herd 40ha permanent grass numbers from 190 to 250 cows. “An 40ha hill pasture additional 60 animals have now entered the herd. Milk yields have Elevation:200- 600ft above sea level increase slightly, despite the increase Facilitators:Heather Wildman & Sophie in heifer numbers and herd health and Kinnear general well-being appear to have improved across the board due to the Funded by: Scottish Government with new housing environment,” Willie says. support from DairyCo, QMS and Robert Milk yields have slightly increased Wiseman Dairies with 2011 – 2012 performance running at 9,786kgs @ 3.69% fat and Started: 24th March 2010 3.14% protein for heifers, and cows

18

effects of Johnes disease, Somatic Cell Counts, mastitis and lameness. “The herd has seen a reduction in Johnes disease and the rate of infection in younger animals is significantly lower. Herd replacements are only bred from negative animals and this will aid our long-term objectives,” says Sandy. Carcary has recorded a significant reduction in Somatic Cell Scores and incidences of clinical mastitis. Cell counts have been reduced from 280,000 in December 2010 to the current rolling level of 130,000. The herd has continued to improve from the 2010 calving interval figure of 433 days and is currently running at 416 days. Age at first-calving has also been reduced and heifers are now entering the herd near the target level of 24 months. The previous average age at first-calving was 26.8 months and a concerted effort to have heifers enter the herd 60 days earlier, has helped reduce feed and bedding costs as well as labour and housing requirements. Feet and legs concerns have been reduced and this has helped to improve conception-rates as well as help reduce herd calving interval and replacement rate. Cows are coming

averaging 10,400kgs @ 3.75% and 3.18% protein. Milk sold in March 2010 – February 2011 was 1,740,989 litres and performance level from March 2011 – February 2012 has resulted in 2,135,000 litres sold. Older animals were maintained in order to sustain numbers until heifer replacements were fully introduced. This resulted in a 2010 - 2011 calving interval of 426 days. The calving interval has been substantially reduced over the past 12 months by 21 days and fertility levels have also increased. Owing to the increase in herd size, the introduction of beet pulp over the winter months helped replace the additional 1,200 tonnes of required silage. The change in the diet resulted in an increase cost of 57p per cow per day compared to the previous year. Additional feed costs across the herd increased by £286 per day. Milk sales have increased by 1,300 litres per day; resulting in an increase in milk sales value of £377 per day. The result was an increase of £91 per day margin over concentrates (MOC) An increase in milk price and milk quality bonus added another increase of £186 per day. Despite a substantial increase in purchased feed, overall margin over feed is approximately £275 per day.

1250 acres owned

Cattle:

340 milking cows 340 young stock

Crops:

940ha arable 110ha intensive grazing 25ha semi-permanent grazing 90ha permanent rough grazing other 80ha

Elevation:up to 100m above sea level Facilitators: Heather Wildman & Sophie Kinnear Funded by: QMS & Scottish Government with support from: DairyCo, QMS and Robert Wiseman Dairies Started:

4th March 2010

forward to oestrus-cycle earlier, are more active, and therefore easier to observe for heat-detection purposes. Milking cows are fed a Total Mixed Ration (TMR) on a daily basis. High yielding groups above 25 litres per day receive maintenance +40l; groups below 25l are receiving maintenance +33l, with the herd currently averaging 35.7kgs per day @ 3.75% fat.


MONITOR FARM

ARABLE FARMERS

e

Savock Farm – Ellon, Aberdeenshire

FARM FACTS Farmer:

George & Andrew Booth

Farming: Savock Farm

th

L

ooking at new grain storage options and investing in a new fertiliser spreader have been key changes made by HGCA’s northern Scottish Monitor Farmer since taking on the role in 2011. Andrew Booth of Savock Farm,

Aberdeenshire was selected by HGCA following an open recruitment drive to be Monitor Farmers. The three year scheme, which is co-funded by the Scottish Government’s Skills Development programme, aims to help farmers come together and make decisions, as well as share advice and practical knowledge. Andrew decided to apply to become a HGCA Scottish Monitor Farmer after spotting an advert in the local paper. He felt he would benefit from the constructive feedback and ideas generated by the Monitor Farm Group, which meet six times a year and is facilitated by Jim Booth from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS). He said: “There is an excellent calibre of people who are taking part in HGCA’s Monitor Farm scheme – coming back with constructive

criticism. We have a huge range of people, experience and expertise coming to the forefront with the youngest being 25 to the oldest at 65. The best farmers are those who are willing to change and grow and that is why being part of a Monitor Farm is so attractive.” Andrew, who grows 324 hectares of combinable crops and 300hd beef cattle on two farms, feels being part of a Monitor Farm has already helped him make one of his first big key decisions – with the fertiliser spreader. He said: “The fertiliser spreader is already 10 years old and we had to decide whether to get a contractor in, change it like for like or more importantly if we should be investing in new technology – in the end the Monitor Farm group helped me decide on something new, which has helped me pull new technology together.”

Location: Foveran, Ellon, Aberdeenshire Area:

344 ha (282ha owned)

Cattle:

300 store cattle finished

Crops:

218ha Combinable Crops: 43.5ha Winter OSR (3.4t/ha) 60.3ha W Barley (8t/ha) 39.4ha W Oats (7.2t/ha) 62.9ha W Wheat (8.4t/ha) 18.4ha S Barley (6t/ha) 52.6ha S Oats (5t/ha) 68ha Grassland

Elevation: 100m above sea level Facilitators: Jim Booth & Peter Cook Funded by: HGCA & Skills Development Programme Started:

May 2011

Other: Farm shop – ‘The Store’ – employs 22 staff, supplies 4 farmers markets, 3 Waitrose stores, local eateries and mail order.

FARM FACTS Farmer:

Alistair and John Hodge

Farming: Whitsome East Newton

Whitsome East Newton, Duns, Berwickshire

Location: Duns, Berwick Area:

156ha owned

Cattle:

Contract Finish > 1000 Cattle

Crops:

Winter Wheat 85 ha Oilseed Rape 30 ha Winter Barley 28 ha Spring Oats 11 ha Grassland < 5ha

Elevation:60m above sea level Facilitator: Donald Dunbar, SAC Funded by:HGCA with support from the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scheme Started:

22 February 2011

S

ince the launch meeting in February 2011 the Whitsome East Newton Monitor Farm has covered a range of business, financial and agronomy related topics. “Increasing the knowledge and understanding of precision farming techniques and tools has been a priority objective for both monitor farmer Alistair Hodge and the community group members,” says SAC facilitator Donald Dunbar. To address this objective a dedicated precision farming meeting was run to help get everyone’s understanding of the benefits that can be gained from using precision farming equipment be it tractor & machine control, targeted agronomy or data management to the same level. The input from specialist speakers and the community group members own knowledge has given Alistair the confidence to map all his fields using electrical conductivity scanning. “Using this technique has provided two agronomy benefits” said Alistair. “The first will allow us to apply lime, phosphate and potash where it is needed rather than a blanket approach. The second is the creation of field by field soil texture maps to allow variable seed rates to be used to

get even plant establishment, which has always been a challenge across our variable heavy soil.” Investigating variable rate nitrogen application using satellite image sensing is a further precision farming technique being investigated on a single wheat field this season. The images are used to create a green area index map which highlights the variation within the field. Early in the season the low index (backward) areas are given additional nitrogen to encourage growth and improve crop potential. If these low index areas

don’t respond the later nitrogen applications are reduced to reflect the lower yield potential. The total amount of nitrogen applied to the field remains the same as if it were conventionally spread however the application of this expensive input has been more targeted. The Arable Monitor Farm programme is funded by HGCA (the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) with support from the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scheme.

19


ARABLE

POTATOES / APPS

App from Agrovista

A

grovista UK Ltd, the leading agronomy specialist, crop protection and horticultural product distributor has announced the launch of a new arable based app for growers and advisors. Agrovista has developed the app for arable users, which is available for Android now, I-Phone and a Windows based version will be available in September. The app is designed to help growers and advisors manage their chemical stores, allow them to take field notes and attach pictures, calculate nutrition and crop-removal values, calculate sowing rates, access news stories and provide a directory of key Agrovista contacts and depots. This aim is to provide an expandable platform that will see new features and products added over time. The store list has over 2400 official products from the official CRD Pesticide list integrated into the app and will allow you to keep an up to date list of products and quantities in chemical stores. Products can be added to the list, the quantities edited and deleted once used. These store lists can be exported, emailed and printed off for record keeping purposes. Custom products can be added to keep a list of every product in store. The Notes section gives the ability to add custom notes, whether it is fertiliser applications, agronomy notes, harvest dates etc they can be saved in

a list by date, you can even attach a picture from your phone camera if you want to note a particular feature or problem area. Once your notes are saved they can be emailed from the app for information or record keeping. The calculator section has a myriad of useful tools for growers for use in the field or office. ∑ Seed rates – Cereal and Oilseed Rape calculators ∑ Fertiliser – Enter a specific N, P, K, S value and the quick reference chart will show you the Kg/Ha nutrients delivered at a product application rate between 50 – 300 kg/ha. You can also enter a custom spreading rate to view nutrients applied at a specific application rate. ∑ Unit Converter – Weight, Volume, Distance, Yield are just some of the units that can be converted from metric to imperial ∑ Crop Removal – A very useful tool that utilises the RB209 figures for crop removals of P & K, easily select your crop and yield and you can see how much nutrients that crop will remove The news section links directly to the Agrovista news feed on the website allowing you to keep up to date with the latest industry technical news and the contacts system helps you contact Agrovista depots, check stock and source technical advice wherever you are. The app is available free from the Agrovista website at www.agrovista.co.uk

Potato Week

I

n the run up to Potato Week (1-7 October 2012), Potato Council is turning to growers and farm shops to help spread the message that there is more to potatoes than meets the eye. To coincide with the launch of its high profile consumer campaign that will highlight the taste, texture and versatility of potatoes, Potato Council has produced promotional and case study material to enable the industry to get involved. For farm shops that sell direct to the public, artwork and promotional literature is available that has been designed with the new potato classifications of ‘fluffy,’ ‘salad’ and ‘smooth’ in mind. The marketing material is supplied via a memory stick so that business managers can print, customise and display the posters, shelf barkers and recipe leaflets as required. These can then be used to educate and inspire shoppers, helping to drive awareness and, potential sales of named varieties. Already putting the material to good use is Potato Ambassador for the East of England Kevin Stokes. Through his farm shop, Kevin has trialled the point of sale and is keen to demonstrate its practicality, simplicity and more importantly, interest to customers. “This is a really exciting campaign,” Kevin says. “We’ve always promoted our different varieties but this classification brings further clarity to customers and gives us an opportunity to focus on the range of textures and tastes potatoes can deliver. The literature is easy to use and once on display is bright, eye-catching and clear – our customers have found it very informative and are keen to try the recipes to taste the difference for themselves.”

For growers and suppliers that do not have their own outlet, there are many other ways to get involved in Potato Week and highlight key messages. With younger consumers eating fewer potatoes, a good place to start is showing children how they play a vital role in our diets and are a good, local food. Schools are increasingly interested in learning about farming and food production and welcome growers into the classroom. To show how easy and rewarding this can be, literature is available that followed Mike Newling, Potato Ambassador for East Anglia on his first visit to a local primary school to host a ‘Potato’ themed afternoon. Mike says: “This has to be one of the most worthwhile activities I have done. The enthusiasm from the children and the teachers was second to none and I felt I made a real difference in terms of how potatoes are viewed by the class. It was easy to arrange and I will definitely be making a date for a return visit in September.” Maria Ball, Potato Council corporate affairs manager said: “There is so much the industry can do to support Potato Week 2012 and help drive value. As well as producing display material, we have developed case studies to demonstrate just how easy it is to be involved – whether it is putting up a poster or engaging with children or a local organisation or hobby group. These are now available for other growers to download and use as a reference tool from our website.” Visit www.potato.org.uk/promotion/getinvolved to find out more.

www.farmingscotland.com


ARABLE

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

Action Needed to Maintain Productive Grassland

T

he ‘catch me when you can’ forage harvesting season we’ve had has resulted in considerable damage to some fields. Unless rectified now this will cause numerous problems for next year’s production. But Barenbrug’s forage research and development manager David Long has some timely advice for livestock farmers. “Many grass fields have suffered severely from the very wet summer. The water-logged conditions delayed harvesting, leading to crops being much bigger than normal, which in turn meant the land didn’t dry out. So when foraging was possible many fields were cut up and severely tracked. The wet conditions also led to many grazing fields being severely poached and rutted. “Left to their own devices or with the ruts levelled out, fields will green up, but with non-productive weed species like meadow-grass rather than

the productive species sown. And the results of not repairing damage this year will show up in lack of production next year. “Meadow grasses, which are naturally occurring in all grass swards, have a yield 50 percent less than perennial ryegrass and a response to Nitrogen of only 17 percent of ryegrass, so the normal reaction of adding more fertiliser to boost yield can be a very expensive mistake. “It is very easy to tell meadow grass from more productive grasses; it will grow in a very fine leaf clump and if it is pulled out it will come out easily, bringing a shallow root structure with it and the base of the stems will be very thin and off-white. Conversely, productive species like ryegrass and Timothy are very difficult to pull out and will usually snap rather than bringing their roots with them. The base of a ryegrass stem usually has a reddish collar

around it and Timothy has an off-white bulbous base like a young spring onion. “Rather than let fields ‘green up’ and live with the lost yields next year, renovating a sward is a cheaper and easier alternative to a complete re-seed. To help we’ve produced a quick five steps to success guide.” Barenbrug’s five steps to successful overseeding are: 1. Relieve any areas of compaction by using a grassland sub-soiler or aerator and level out any ruts. 2. Use a spring tine harrow to remove any dead stalks, thatch and shallow rooted weed grasses, make sure that the tines are working the top 1cm of the soil as this will create the seed bed for the new seeds. 3. Broadcast a specialist overseeding

mixture like Barforage Renew or Barmix Renew at a seed rate of 25kg/ha (10 kg/ ac). These mixtures use species that will establish rapidly, boost production and help to smother weeds. 4. Roll the sward with a Cambridge roller to incorporate the seeds into the soil, or alternatively walk sheep, several times, across the reseeded area as their feet will do the same job. 5. Ideally graze the sward tightly for a couple of weeks following overseeding to minimise the competition to the seedlings. David concludes: “Repairing this summer’s damage now ensures production for next year and efficient use of expensive fertilisers; don’t do it and you could be wondering where next year’s production is coming from.”


ARABLE

ADVICE

by Fiona Turnbull photos by Rebecca Lee

Making the Most of Arable Advice

S

cottish Agronomy is a farmer co-operative dedicated to supporting Scotland’s arable farmers. The organisation has become the leading cereal trials company north of the border and uses the results from trials that include everything from seed varieties, fertilisers and sprays to help producers optimise their production methods and improve their profitability. It’s an organisation that utilises science and technology to explore latest developments and translates the findings into practical help for its members. MEMBERS With over 200 farmer members across the country farming approx. 50 000 ha of arable land between them Scottish Agronomy membership represents an estimated 40% of the medium/ large producers in Scotland. Forty of the farmer members have signed up for one to one membership and in addition to receiving regular information from the group, will meet with their agronomist for half a day per month to look at crops and plan rotations, spraying programmes and choose seed varieties. The remaining majority of the members are signed up to group membership so will belong to one of the 13 Scottish Agronomy groups that meet monthly on a members farm. The day will consist of hearing from one of the company’s three agronomists on the latest developments and trials results, there will always be a farm walk to view the crops and a chance to talk to other farmers in the group about challenges and solutions. Andrew Gilchrist is the managing director and has been with the co-op since it was formed, Andrew says;

22

“It’s important that members who host visits show off both the best and worst examples on their farm as many valuable lessons can be learned from examples of good practice but it’s always of benefit to discuss what may have gone wrong if a member has a field with a poor growth rate or an area of disease challenge. Our members join as they have a desire to fine tune their operations, maximise their yields and eek out their resources – they are switched on farmers who are open to a variety of new agronomy techniques. Because of this we don’t spend the whole time delivering lectures as members tell us they find time spent discussing their arable enterprise with other members to be one of the most valuable aspects of membership.” Scottish Agronomy delivers the information and advice but do not supply products – each farmer will weigh up the independent advice and source the products direct from their chosen suppliers. In recent years some groups have formed informal buying partnerships to make savings on regularly bought inputs, other groups have a nominated price co-ordinator who will check distributor prices of fertiliser and chemicals and share the information with their fellow members. It’s the kind of inside knowledge that can push up the margin on a particular enterprise without any increase in yield. TRIALS Scottish Agronomy conduct independent trials for farmer members, trials that are HGCA levy funded and on behalf of their 26 corporate members, which include most of the main players in the plant breeding world and many leading

arable agricultural suppliers. The trials side of the business has now overtaken the advisory arm and accounts for 60% of the business turnover. This season over 20,000 plots across the trial sites were planted and the team are working hard to make the necessary assessments in the challenging weather conditions of summer 2012. Adam Christie is the trials manager and has been with the company for 23 years, he explains; “Our trial sites are spread across the Eastern side of Scotland and we look for good, even soil types, as we need to produce reliable results so limit the variables as much as possible. All trial sites are based on members’ farms and this is a real strength of the business. We’re here to help our members become more efficient and are fortunate that when they host trials they help us to achieve these goals too. Despite all the broken weather of this season and there being 150 miles between our sites we’ve had hardly any wasted journeys this year.” The equipment involved is all specialist kit with one of the seeders being specially commissioned for the group. Whilst the mini versions of sprayers, spreaders and harvesters may be a young boys dream, they represent an investment of half a million pounds over recent years. A brand new Sampo combine harvester from Finland is a recent addition and takes the fleet up to seven. Harvest commenced on 31st July and until it’s finished everyone gets involved, not all the combines have a cab like the Sampo though so it’s always a race for these keys. THE NEXT GENERATION Retaining their unique model of

advisory service and adapting to meet the needs of their members has seen the group grow and develop to such a point that is has outgrown it’s current office and workshop at Arlary near Kinross. The board, which is made up of 8 farmer members and 4 staff, have visions for the membership to grow further. Andrew explains, “As a cooperative we are a member of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), they support farmer co-ops and foster industry collaboration. SAOS recently helped us to conduct a board health check and business analysis on the group. We’ve now developed a plan that will guide us through the next few years. Both Andrew and Adam recognise the vital part the next generation will play in this and are excited that they can offer graduate vacancies and a path of progression within the group. They are also keen to attract young farmers, who are becoming involved in the management of the family farm and have joined up with Young Farmers clubs to highlight what’s available from Scottish Agronomy. Adam says that the agricultural industry has shown great resilience during this recession and with the worlds growing demand for food set to continue it’s an industry that young people can look to enter for a rewarding career. Andrew says; “Our current location is a fantastic base in geographical terms – we have great motorway access but the existing premises is just not big enough to cope anymore. We’re hopeful this can be resolved soon and we can then provide a secure stable base for the future of the group and ensure our staff enjoy the great working environment they deserve.”

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑

• • • • • •

Established in 1985 as a farmer co-operative Based at Arlary near Kinross 13 permanent staff plus seasonal help 200 farmer members 3 main trial sites in Aberdeenshire, Fife and The Borders Aims – to produce, gather and disseminate technical information solely for member benefits

23


ARABLE

CONTRACTING

BUSINESS FACTS Farmer:

Andrew & Isabel Myles

Farming: Claremont Farm Location: Strathkinness, Fife Area:

450 acres owned 1200 acres contract farmed

Crops:

OSR W Barley W Wheat S Barley

Elevation: 100m above sea level Other income: Agricultural Contractor since 1979 Labour:

Three full time staff: Charles Dawson David Young Andrew Gardner

Willie Methven returns every year to drive a combine, Stuart Paterson has helped at harvest for 4 years and Jamie Chalmers is a student who is helping out for the first time this year.

Allan Myles runs an agricultural contracting business from Claremont Farm, by Strathkinness, Fife. With a well-developed fleet of machinery that carries out everything from ploughing to harvesting across North East Fife, the business employs 3 full time men with seasonal help when required. BUILDING THE BUSINESS

S

tarting a contracting business from scratch at the age of 23, Allan hired his first tractor and plough and started to build up a customer base, which grew to serve nearly 200 farmers but now carries out contracting for about 100. Allan says; “In 1979 there were lots of farmers in this area and most reared 50-100 head of fattening cattle on their arable farms so I picked up ploughing work in winter and when a local contractor retired I jumped at the chance to buy his barrel dung spreader and grass seed machinery. “As I became better known I moved into silage work too. In order to build a good reputation I cut and baled lots of wee fields of grass, often on farms scattered across the region and miles away from home.” By the time Oil Seed Rape had become a popular new crop, Allan had spotted an opportunity to swath this for his existing and new customers and from 1987 onwards this side of the business grew rapidly – at it’s peak he was co-ordinating 4 swathers to swath 4000 acres of rape within two weeks. It’s not surprising he says that one of his daughters wrote in her schoolbook that she thought, “Daddy was an Owl” because she only saw him at night! The contracting has always been based at Claremont, the farm that was tenanted by his wife, Isabel’s

24

family. When the opportunity arose in 1994 to purchase Claremont, Isabel and Andrew took on the challenge and were successful in buying the 450-acre farm. Since then this side of the business has taken on two contract farming arrangements, Isabel comments “We’ve always looked out for new opportunities and tried to adapt to the changes around us, contract farming has proved to be a rewarding change of direction, we enjoy looking after the land all year round.” MAKING IT WORK Asking what he attributes to the success of the contracting business, Allan is quick to highlight the contribution made by his staff. “We’ve got really good men” he says. “We operate a one man one machine policy and the guys treat the kit like their own, they carry out their own servicing and take care to check over the machinery every morning.” The staff have over 36 years of service between them and are up to date with the latest technology and electronics that is now part of their job. Allan adds; “Everyone here is passionate about farm machinery, they take pride in cleaning and maintaining their tractors and equipment and they don’t think twice about working to 11pm or midnight to beat the weather.” Seasonality can be a challenge for a business responsible for full time staff all year round but Allan reckons the

diverse range of contracting that the business now carries out has helped to alleviate this. The contracting calendar runs from February to November with tractors and machines out working in fields across Fife for all of this time. The team ploughs over 3000 acres and sows about 2000 acres between spring and autumn; three Grimme stone separators then support potato-planting preparations during May before silage making starts. Hesston square balers are popular in the area, which produces a lot of vegetables as the straw in this big square bale is perfect for insulating carrots so two of these will bale approximately 12 000 bales a season. Reflecting the dispersal of livestock in their area, they no longer own dung spreaders. That leaves December and January for the major servicing work and during any quiet times everyone gets stuck into drainage at home or on the contract farming land. It seems there is never a dull moment and organisation is now a full time role for Allan, this part he says, “was revolutionised by mobile phones.” As a member of Tayforth machinery ring since it was formed and currently serving as a director the ring is another source of organisational support. Talking to his customers daily and being able to sort out their requests means the mobile phone is always in his boiler suit pocket.

Before mobiles he spent about 2 hours every evening on the phone at the kitchen table, often facing a cold dinner as it was impossible to fit in eating between the volume of calls. The ease of mobile communication is now vital, as Mother Nature has positioned herself as the most challenging part of the management in recent years. Allan comments; “The prolonged periods of wet weather that prevail across the country mean the whole farming industry is suffering. Wet conditions slow down the work rate and increase the wear and tear on machines; we see fewer drier spells and can’t bank on the next day to be a dry one. This means there is a massive workload on everyone when the sun comes out. We’ve had dual wheels on the combines for a few years and serious consideration will be given to a combine with tracks when the New Holland 8060 is due for renewal.” LESSONS TO LEARN Thirty three years after hiring his first tractor, Allan continues to relish running both contract enterprises. A young person, who may be looking to set out on a similar path may see the price of agricultural land and machinery as a barrier to entry. The lessons to be learnt from Allan and Isabel are: grasp opportunities, be flexible, determined and work hard to get results.

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


ARABLE

CONTRACTING

Canny Contracting at Claremont IN ALLANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S SHED

2 x NH combines, 8070, 8060 2 x MF's over 200hp 2 x 5 furrow Kvernland ploughs 3 x lemken 4m one pass seeders New Holland baler McHale Wrapper 2 x Heston balers JF forage harvesters JD mowers 3 x Grimme stone separators

by Fiona Turnbull photos by Rebecca Lee

25


MACHINERY

NEW HOLLAND

New Holland Completes First Delivery of a Fleet of Over 100 Machines in Georgia

distributor GT Group, has supported the Georgian government since the delivery of its first large fleet of 122 tractors and 25 combine harvesters to Meqanizatori in 2010. New Holland offered Meqanizatori a competitive 6year financing package at attractive rates. This was made possible through the support of ECGD, the UK Export Credit Agency, which saw the significance of this project for New Holland’s UK-based manufacturing plant.

N

ew Holland Agriculture – a global manufacturer and seller of agricultural equipment and part of CNH – with its distributor GT Group Ltd., recently delivered 12 combine harvesters to the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture as part of a larger purchase program. The company will ultimately supply the Ministry with a total of 92 tractors and 25 combine harvesters, complemented by 50 grain and maize headers, 25 sunflower header kits and 22 dozer blades. The first twelve TC5070 combine harvesters fitted with 17-foot grain headers were handed over to Meqanizatori LLC, the Ministry of Agriculture’s farming mechanization service provider. The machines, built at New Holland’s manufacturing plant in Plock, Poland, are the first units of the entire program to be delivered and are ready to start harvesting around the country. These first units will be joined by thirteen more combines and sixty-seven T6000 Series units from the New Holland plant in Basildon, UK, which will supply the majority of the tractors. Twenty-two TK4060 crawler tractors built in New Holland’s specialty tractor plant in Jesi, Italy, and three high horsepower T8.390 tractors made in Racine, USA will also be provided. As part of CNH, each New Holland plant is dedicated to specific product families. This means that each facility has developed specialized technical and manufacturing expertise

26

to achieve the highest levels of quality in its products in order to fully meet each of its customer's requirements. These 117 machines will be used by Meqanizatori to provide service to farmers in all regions of Georgia with ready-to-use equipment featuring the most advanced technology. The wide selection of models and attachments in this new fleet will enable Meqanizatori to deliver a broader range of services in order to efficiently cover a large variety of farming applications. The 101-horsepower TK4060 crawler tractors – the first to be sold in Georgia – are ideal for working on slopes too steep for wheeled tractors and with 88 PTO hp, rise to the challenge of big tillage and PTO applications. The long wheelbase 340-horsepower T8.390s are built to perform in heavy applications and are very well suited to secondary cultivation, drilling, top dressing and transport. The T6000 Series, which ranges between 112 and 165 horsepower, is a natural choice for livestock, arable applications or for contractors. New Holland, with GT Group’s service technicians, has started training for over 230 operators in the country on product use and maintenance to ensure the farmers will get the best performance from these machines. New Holland has been present in Georgia for more than a decade. The company has developed extensive experience and know-how regarding local farming needs and, along with its

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


AROUND THE REGIONS

EASTER ROSS

John Scott Fearn Farm Tain

I

was just about to start this article with a quick line about the weather, but no this is going to be a positive article, so a brief run through of what we have been up to in the past few months is the plan. Our year started with a big – once in a lifetime – trip to New Zealand. We returned home in mid-January and life has been a blur since then. There were times that Fiona and I questioned our sanity taking four young children: (James (10), Izzy (8), Lexie (6) and Archie (4)) to the other side of the world but our logic was as follows. We had been invited to a wedding, which gave us an excuse, the kids were at an age where school was flexible and transportation for them was only going to get dearer so following months of discussion and a couple of glasses of NZ Sauv Blanc, we pressed the button and booked the tickets. That was the easy part, but with help from Mr Mastercard and loads of friends and family we had a great trip and came home well rested and inspired by some very able committed farmers that we met on our travels. I couldn’t help but notice how keen and motivated New Zealand’s younger farmers were, these guys were passionate about the industry and determined to progress up the ladder no matter which rung they found themselves starting on. One of the main differences that I found between NZ and the UK was that youngsters (realise I might be starting to sound like an old duffer but I’m still the right side of 40 thanks) were actively encouraged by parents to follow their hearts and pursue their farming dreams. How often have you heard whilst referring to their son or daughter a friend or neighbour or even said it yourself, “I wouldn’t mind if they go farming but I’d rather they do something else first, just in case it doesn’t work out.” This attitude has got to change if kids show the slightest interest in farming, whether they are from farming stock or not.

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

They should be given every encouragement. If we are to meet the worlds growing demand for food we need the best there is and where better to look than on our doorstep? As farmers we have a key role in promoting agriculture in our local communities, this coupled with a coordinated approach by educational institutions such as the SAC and the likes of the NFU, RHET and QMS will set us on the right track ensuring that we have people at all levels who will collectively drive our industry forward. Speaking of youth, by the time you read this we will have two new employees, Calum Sutherland is joining us in early September and will mainly focus on livestock whilst Jim Maclean has joined the team on a self-employed basis, he will concentrate on our area of weakness – machinery and maintenance. Extra pairs of hands should allow us to become more efficient, in theory I may even get on top of the office work whilst enjoying a little more time off, working seven days a week is ok for a short spell but before you know realise, it can become habit. Our lamb selling season is well under way, over 800 have left the farm to average around 20kg. All of them have been sold to Woodhead Bros in Turriff, and most of our cast ewes have also been sold, freeing up grass for the autumn. We have tagged 400 ewe lambs for retention to date and will select more from our late May lambing flock at weaning, we will need more than ever this year as we have taken on an extra 300 acres of grass which will allow the flock to expand. This suits us as we find sheep to be the most profitable enterprise that we have per acre, it also suits our mind set, we as a family are more inclined towards stock. I think it is genetic, James, now 10, is daft about sheep – a good trait to have. His small Beltex flock has had a decent run at the summer shows picking up two breed championships,

an interbreed at Nairn and an interbreed – best from Ross – at the Black Isle. It is great attending local shows and we’ve found it to be a useful way of promoting our ‘GREAT FROM GRASS’ ram sale which was held on farm in August. Cow numbers remain around the 100 mark with Shorthorn numbers steadily increasing within that figure. Bull sales have been good so far this year with all two year olds sold by the end of May and interest now being shown in yearlings. Cow numbers are likely to rise next year as more heifers will be retained as recipients for embryos that are being brought in from NZ.While we were on our trip

we discovered that Austin’s Shorthorns were dispersing in March and we subsequently bought a few cows for flushing with a view to bringing home some new genetics.. It’s a long term thing; we don’t expect calves on the ground until spring 2014. It’s going to be a busy year, the World Sheepdog Trials are coming to Fearn in September that year following on from the international that we hosted last year. These kind of events don’t come around often, it’s great for Scotland, the Highlands and Scottish Aagriculture, we certainly enjoy people visiting the farm and it doesn’t half make you tidy up!

Looking for a full or part time job? Enjoy chatting to people? Well why not come and join Farming Country from the comfort of your own home? Advertisng sales positions available Call 016444 60644

29


AROUND THE REGIONS

LOTHIAN

John Sinclair West Craigie South Queensferry

W

hat a summer….or should that be when was the summer!? But you will have been alright because you have poly-tunnels! If I had a pound form all those that said that to me I would have no worries. The lack of sun has had a big effect on everything and everybody, all in all it has been quite a depressing summer, the last thing the country needed during a double dip depression! However, just look further afield to countries with drought conditions, puts all of our problems into perspective. All in all we have a pretty good growing climate in the UK, yes we have had to adapt but I think I would rather have too much water than not enough. Yes, fruit farmers have adapted to the climate by using poly-tunnels, however they do not help sales. Strawberry sales are driven very much by sunshine and not by discounting as the supermarkets would believe. At the start of July our sales were down by the equivalent of us writing off 5 acres of barley every day; hate to think how the big boys have got on! Still a few days of sunshine and the Olympic Games have given everyone something different to think about. Although turnover has been back this year we are still very much seeing an upward trend towards demand for local foods. It is very slow but I think the housewife is starting to realise that perhaps she isn’t getting as good a deal at her local supermarket. There has been a lot in the press about the plight of the dairy farmer; there is a lot of public support for the dairy farmer and we really need to keep this pressure on so that the supermarkets are exposed for what they really are. I read with great interest the Tesco

30

job spec for a buyer, exposed by NFUS, if you missed it here is an extract – “You will also be responsible for ensuring your chosen suppliers trade ethically and that you achieve your savings/income Target through the 4 ways of buying: • Buy for Less • Someone Else Pays • Use Less • Re-Engineer I could think of an appropriate five letter word that would replace the four ways detailed above (answers on a postcard….). It would be great to see what the job spec for an employee working on the customer service front would be? Perhaps it is the same with ‘buy for less’ replaced with ‘sell for more’ and so on. It really puts the farmer in a difficult position because the supermarkets are our biggest customer but they need us as much as we need them. I can remember when a lot of our business was done on trust, something that just doesn’t happen now. How do we move things forward when supermarkets are actively employing buyers with the above un-ethical practices? I am just glad that I do not depend on them for my income. Enough of my moans at the weather and supermarkets! Farm Retail – what a success story in Scotland. Earlier this year I helped organise the National Farm Retailers Conference in Edinburgh. This three day conference was attended by around 400 delegates from the length and breadth of the UK. This conference was last held in Scotland nine years ago, when we struggled to find enough farm shops to fill the tours, this time we had to leave so many out of the tours! Candidates

who had come to both conferences in Scotland were blown away by the progress in such a short space of time. There was also a lot of envy for the support we get from The Scottish Government. Scottish Agriculture has a lot to be proud of, there has been a lot of change in the last 10 years and we have adapted to change well. What will the next 10 years bring? I suspect there will be a lot of change and there is no doubt we will embrace any change. Just be ready to say ‘I told you so’ when the consumer wonders why they can’t buy UK milk or pork. What is on the cards for Craigie’s in the next year? We are currently drawing breath and I am putting all my new management skills I picked up on the Rural Leadership Program into practice. So if I have any staff left we are planning to improve our animal attractions on the farm, not just a petting area but an education area so that our customers can see how their food is produced. We are also developing our PYO side of the business; in the last 10

years we have seen six PYO farms close their gates around Edinburgh. We see this as an opportunity to develop and build. The key is to understand why PYO has found it so tough. The way I see it is that 20 years ago the customer was picking fruit to fill the freezer or make jam, now the customer sees it as a leisure activity and the fruit picked is a byproduct of this activity. We introduced an entry charge this year and in order to protect our serious pickers we made this charge redeemable against any fruit picked. We still have to crunch the figures but it has been a great success, yes we have had complaints but mainly from the customers we only see once a year. On our peak days in the summer we see over 2000 visitors a day (when the sun shines), if only 0.25% of them complain I reckon we are probably not charging enough for customers to enter and enjoy our farm. Next year we will have cherries, more raspberries and some apples for our customers to enjoy, just got to organise that sunshine!

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


SIXTY YEARS AGO

MARGARET H MACPHERSON

Skye in Autumn

T

he long-drawn-out struggle of hay and harvest has at last drawn to a close. On the whole, it can be described as a successful close, but also, assuredly, it is no exaggeration to call it a struggle. Looking up a record of work, I see that ryegrass cut on the 1st and 5th July was in coils by the 3rd and 8th, but not stacked for lack of weather until the 4th and 6th of August. It has been a aremarkable season for grass, and the hay crop is exceptionally heavy. Oats, which were a good crop, cut with us at at the end of August and the beginning of September, were not stacked for lack of weather till 1st and 3rd October. That is admittedly, an individual record only where there was quite a number of people working. In other places where there is a man alone or with very little help, harvesting becomes still more difficult. I went round a large part of the island in the first week of October and was surprised to see how much of the harvest was still out, and even in one or two places on the west oats were still standing. But where a man is doing both hill-work and arable it is understandable. Gathering and going to distant markets cut in on a man’s time and the sales may, and probably do, coincide with very few good drying days, which come this way. This is certainly one reason for regarding the grading centre at Kyle of Lochalsh with favour. A man will not lose so many working days over grading at Kyle as he must if he has to reach Dingwall or Inverness, the nearest markets. Taking it all in all, though broken, the weather was not very wet. In the middle of August there was nearly a week of good weather. This the weather forecast described as

32

“showers and fair periods,” thus causing the utmost alarm to hay-makers when actually there was no need! “They cannot,” we said, shaking our heads indulgently, “be right for every place.” So we decided not to listen to the forecasts but to get on with the job. September was also very broken, and cutting oats while wearing waterproof leggings was the order of the day. In the middle of the month came several good days, but but on the 24th and 25th there came two days of very heavy rain which made the corn lie. STOCK PRICES Cattle sales were held in the middle of September, and the prices realised were the highest yet. We had this year before the sales buyers coming up to make private bargains, and they took a great deal of stock which would otherwise have come out at the local sales, and took them away at a price too favourable to themselves for the auction mart prices ranged from £50 to £60 for an exceptionally good beast. The only difficulty small holders had was not in selling at a good price, but at finding a beast or two for the wintering. With wintering so plentiful – for the hay crop was an exceptionally heavy one it is probable that there will be a strong local demand for winterers at the last sales of the season. Lambs have done very well, grading at 70s to 75s, while one lot, which graded late in the season made 85s, but that is leaving lambs rather long on their mothers. Cast ewes are now selling well at 84s and thereabouts but as any housewife would say, they would need to with prices all soaring. LOCAL SHOWS Kilmuir Show was cancelled this year because of trouble over attested and non-attested cattle, which could

by Margaret H MacPherson

not be allowed to mix. This was a disappointment to many a good from Kilmuir as the show has always been a favourite one and very well run. Let us hope that by next summer all the cattle will have been attested. The Dunvegan Show was held in August and was lucky enough to fall on a good day. Here again the number of cattle was smaller as the entries were confined to attested animals. Sheep were numerous but horses alas were very disappointing. The Challenge Shield, presented by Flora, Mrs MacLeod of MacLeod, was won by Mr Roderick Nicolson, Struanmore, with a beautiful grey mare. But it looks as if we should soon have to present prizes for tractors rather than for horses as the former bid fair to drive the others out of existance!

A FARM SCHOOL I was shown overr a school a short time ago in Ross-shire. Balmacara School is run on a farm, and here the pupils, aged about 14, while learning the usual subjects – English, maths and science etc. – also do practical work on the farm, joining in hay making, stock-rearing, and land reclaimation. The boys run the poultry side of the farm themselves. It is I am convinced a great step forward when the practical side of life is given an honoured place with the theoretical. Too often in the past agriculture has been looked upon as the Cinderellas of all occupations. But as it happened in the fairytale, so it is now with farming. Cinderella is becoming the most important person at the ball. Farming is now so closely knit to science and to engineering that a lad, far from being backward, must be well equipped with brain and hand to do well in such work today. In 150 years of industrial revolution, the wheel had come full circle, and we are now back to the all-important land, which was so long neglected for the lure of the town and a white collar job. We need more schools like this one at Balmacara to train land workers. We could do with one at least, if not more, in every county in Scotland.

If you would like a monthly subscription to Farming Country so it is delivered to your door every month please fill out the form below and send a cheque for £40 to: Farming Country Subs, Marbrack Farm, Carsphairn, Castle Douglas, DG73TE

Name: Address:

Date of first copy required:

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six


FYALL’S FOCUS

SINGLE FARM PAYMENT

Fyall’s Focus Single Farm Payment for New Entrants

by John Fyall

T

he French have a phrase “il pleut.” In schoolboy French this means “it is raining,” but amongst many French (particularly rural dwellers I hear) it takes on far more meaning. The Urban Dictionary defines “As a verb, often used to describe a sad, bored, or generally negative state – although it can sometimes hold absolutely no meaning and just be a pointless comment.” Il Pleut indeed. This would be the most common, indeed the only phrase amongst Scots farmers this year had Napolean conquered Europe. After several vain attempts to make hay I have only the same amount of silage as last year and no hay, therefore one third less bales than last year overall. We put the last field in a bag because I was not brave enough to leave hay whilst I visited the Black Isle show (which once again proved an excellent 2 days in the Highlands). I still go up North to sheep sales in the back end, but this year it barely feels like I have said goodbye in 2011 than I am back again in 2012. The year does not feel completed without a summer, even though the last three years have set a low bar for ‘summer.’ That said, sheep are not a disaster, with lambs doing better in this weather than

cattle it seems and the trade though not quite last years, is holding up in the face of a strong pound and some store buyers are facing a grass shortage. Proving our contrary climate in this last 3 years, some West Coast producers complain of near drought, which will also mean they are on the hunt for forage at affordable prices. We managed to get the sheep clipped, though a little later than I would have liked for the 160 (top quality Hill!) Northie Cheviots I will be selling as gimmers. All sheep have come through without the maggots of last year, and only in recent weeks has any lameness been seen, and so far cows and calves are growing away and cows settled to bull. Even the crop is okay, I could not get contractors for my small acreage of Belinda (Swedish Oats) so they were sown well into May, and despite being in 1st yr Organic Conversion and having no inputs, they are looking well. I think they have caught the recent heat on the flagleaf at the right stage so benefit the accidental late sowing, now fingers crossed they ripen before the snow!!!!! So maybe it isn’t all bad news. We will know better possibly by the time this magazine is distributed

how the mood is in New Entrants. Richard Lochhead is holding a New Entrant summit on the 12th September, and I dearly hope some good will come of it rather than more lip-service. Despite all the new measures of interest rate relief, SAC advice, Business Reviews, Start up units... the main thing, and most important thing to New Entrants is access to the same conditions as existing businesses, and this means Pillar 1 SFP. Currently a business with no SFP has to find an extra £700 a week compared to the average subsidised Scottish farm business! A national reserve is not the answer, as it may help new entrants, but will penalise all other producers by topslicing those trying to grow businesses as well as those doing nothing. We do not want special treatment, we want equal treatment. Now it looks like further delays in implementing CAP reform past 2013, and the industry apparently is looking for a longer gradual phase-in from Historic Payment. This will be an administrative nightmare and will penalise as many as it helps. Only the Slipper farmer will truly win. What we need is a new system immediately that captures all those

managing land in a positive fashion. Any active business doing the same or more than in 2003 should not be afraid of change. Instead of protecting an unjustifiable system, we should work together to ensure the new system is the fairest one, because as production slips around the country, there must surely be extra money for those still pushing their business. Hundreds of Thousands of Naked Acres are there to be won back by those farming the ground now, and let us not allow people to try and defend those acres, as they are choking the industry. The feeling amongst the industries new blood is definitely “il pleut” every time we go to the market, every time we meet the bank manager, every time rent is due, when a machine unexpectedly breaks or animals require medication; no amount of political tinkering around the edges will change this harsh reality and indeed only increases the frustration. Instead of defending the indefensible, let us work to try and get that PILLAR 1 money back into the pockets of those who the CAP intended it for, the people who feed the taxpayer from EVERY acre they have.

Fancy Dress on Horseback – New Galloway Show

Farming Country – Issue eighty-six

33


RURAL ROUND-UP

FARM NAMES

What’s in a Name?

C

oming from Skye I’ve always been aware of Gaelic place names. The word ‘achadh’ – field – comes up in many communities across the Highlands, in names of farms, villages and townships. A fine example is Achadhchork just outside Portree, which translates to – field of corn. (although there is no letter ‘k’ in Gaelic). Since moving to South West Scotland I’ve found the word ‘auchen’ crops up often as a prefix to many farm names. With a bit of research I’ve found it also comes from the Gaelic, meaning ‘field.’ The South West, Aberdeenshire and Highland areas all have numerous properties with these prefixes. From my database I’ve counted 30 in Dumfries and Galloway, 26 in Aberdeenshire, 13 in Argyll, 13 in Ayrshire, 8 in the Glasgow area, 35 in Highland region, 4 in Lanarkshire, 9 in Tayside and 1 each in Fife and Lothian. None cropped in the Borders, Orkney or Shetland. In some areas the prefix is ‘auch’ or ‘acha.’ For each area I’ll list some of the names I’ve come across and what they mean.

I’ve always been fascinated with farm names and what they may mean

DUMFRIESSHIRE Auchleach Auchenvey Auchenleck Auchenhill

achadh laogh achadh na heith achadh na leac achadh na chuill

calves’ field birch field field of flagstones field of the wood

ABERDEENSHIRE Auchencreive

achadh na craebh

field of trees

HIGHLAND Auchness Achnamoine

34

each inis achadh ma moine

horse pasture field of peat


RURAL ROUND-UP

COMPETITION

Photography Competition SHOW TIME

H

ave you snapped any quality shots at the summer shows this year, on in previous years? If so e-mail them to editor@farmingscotland.com by the 20th September. The winning photographs will be printed in the October issue of Farming Country, with the best four receiving a prize.

35


farmingscotland.com Issue 86  

Agricultural magazine from farmingscotland.com

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you