15th January 2020

Borders Monitor Farm Highlight Changes at Final Meeting

The final meeting of the Borders monitor farm will take place at the end of this month (29 January, 2020)

The Mitchell family from Whitriggs Farm in Denholm, have embraced their role as monitor farmers wholeheartedly and the upcoming meeting will highlight the significant changes they have made over the three-year project to their farm enterprises to improve profitability and efficiency.

Starting with tea and coffee at 10.30am, the meeting at Whitriggs Farm near Denholm, will also discuss the achievements and benefits of the programme to the Monitor Farm as well as the local community.

Robert and Lesley Mitchell farm in partnership with their son Stuart. They run a herd of 170 suckler cows at their 442-hectare farm as well as a breeding herd of 300 red deer. Stuart took on the responsibility of the day to day decision making at Whitriggs in 2018 and is keen to ensure that Whitriggs continues to develop.

At the start of the programme the full community group decided on the vision to “Maintain a profit in a challenging environment”. Throughout the three years they have made many changes towards this, including introducing a new enterprise, and diversifying their production system to organic.

Stuart Mitchell said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Monitor Farm Programme for the last three years. The input from specialists and support from the community group and facilitators has been vital in some of our decision making.

“The biggest developments we have implemented include moving to a six-week calving period, investigating our underperforming sheep flock, and the introduction of the new deer enterprise.

“Our business is now in a much better position for the future than when we started the Programme, and we are positive it will continue to move forward.” 

As part of the programme the Mitchells have benchmarked both technical and financial data with their business group.

Stuart added: “I have enjoyed seeing the many benefits of sharing data over the past three years and I hope it continues beyond the monitor farm programme.”

At the final meeting, QMS Chair, Kate Rowell will talk about her time as a monitor farmer, her experience since finishing the programme and the positive effect it has had on her farming business.

Attendees will also have the chance to hear from Oliver McEntryre, Head of Agriculture at Barclays Bank, who will discuss setting a vision for the future. Dr Paul Thomas from Plantation Systems will speak on carbon sequestration and management.

Monitor Farm Facilitator, Fergus Younger from SAOS commented: “This final meeting is a fantastic opportunity to review the many changes the Mitchells have implemented over the last three years. It’s also a perfect time to look forward and focus on what they will achieve in the coming years.”

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

The meeting on Tuesday 29 January will be held at Whitriggs farm, near Denholm, TD9 8QR and will begin at 10.30am. Lunch will be provided at Cross Keys, Denholm. The meeting is expected to finish by 3pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

For further information and to book your place (and lunch) please contact facilitator Fergus Younger on 07771 966649 or email fergus.younger@saos.coop



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