Growers with an appetite for innovation and who are looking for ways to boost their business performance are being sought for two additional Arable Monitor Farms in Scotland.
HGCA and Potato Council are looking to recruit two cereals and oilseeds growers, ideally with potatoes in the rotation, to host the next phase of the successful HGCA monitor farm programme in the Fife, Easter Ross and Moray Coast areas.
The new projects, set to begin in October this year, will build on the success of HGCAs established monitor farms in Aberdeenshire and the Borders, which are now entering into the final stage of their three-year term.
The project funded through the Scotland Rural Development Programme, which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union is farmer-led, dealing with real on-farm issues to drive improvements in technical performance, profit and long term sustainability.
Host farms are supported by a facilitator offering advice and guidance as well as an Arable Business Group made up of local growers, providing a forum for discussion and an opportunity for members to benchmark their business with other like-minded individuals.
Through open days, specialist talks, blogs and the press, the monitor farms reach out to the local community and beyond.
Current HGCA monitor farmer Andrew Booth, who farms 300ha in Aberdeenshire, says: There is always scope to improve and there is nothing like constructive criticism to sharpen your judgment.
Being a monitor farm has exposed us to ideas, information, discussion and independent assessments of a host of machinery, systems and approaches. It has also given a more detailed understanding of costs of production and managing fixed costs this is the area where differences between running a business and making a profit can be made.
As a Monitor Farmer, you will gain 10 years-worth of advice for your business in three years.
The social opportunities offered by the monitor farms programme and the links with the wider industry including agri-trade, agronomists, banks and other professionals are a key aspect of their success.
For the first time, Potato Council will be involved in the three-year monitor farm project. We are thrilled that potato growers now have the opportunity to be part of this programme, said Potato Councils Technical Executive Claire Hodge.
This is a great way for reviewing and optimising technical, business and soil management efficiency for the whole rotation, while sharing best practice with other growers, landlords and industry leaders.
HGCA has further strengthened its commitment to Scottish arable producers by appointing a Regional Manager for Scotland to ensure the local needs of arable farmers are recognised. New Regional Manager, Gavin Dick, added: Increasingly volatile prices and changing weather patterns means farmers must be able to react at short notice and to do this, they need to have up to date information and ideas.
There is no better vehicle for this than a group of like-minded farmers sharing ideas and trying out new methods, as well as forging links with the wider supply chain.
For more information on the monitor farm programme, to apply or to nominate a host farmer, contact one of the following:
HGCA Regional Manager Gavin Dick on 07972 636679 or email [email protected]
Potato Council, Technical Executive, Claire Hodge on 07771 798552 or email [email protected]