The Stodart family, from Inverarity, say their farm has changed “beyond recognition” since joining the monitor farm programme three years ago.
Robert and Alison Stodart farm alongside their son Rory at Mill of Inverarity, Forfar, and have a mixed business which includes breeding and finishing cattle, sheep, free-range laying hens and arable land in spring barley, winter wheat, winter oilseed rape, turnips and fodder beet.
Alison said: “Our farm is a totally different place now to when we started and the process has given us all a lot of confidence as a family and how we work together. We have become more professional as farmers. It’s not just a way of life any more, it is a business.”
She said the input and advice the family had received from other farmers had made the farm business more resilient.
“Being a monitor farmer has given us the confidence to change the way we do things. It has encouraged us to become better at planning ahead and, as a result, we have a much more structured crop rotation and marketing strategy in place and have improved the fertility of our cattle.”
Chris Leslie, AHDB’s Scottish knowledge exchange manager, who has been involved in the management of the Inverarity project, explained the Stodarts had realised that fully integrating their enterprises brought benefits.
He said: “They have had the whole farm soil mapped in the last three years with the help of Soil Essentials and have brought the pH up to where it needs to be. As a result, they’ve seen dramatically improved yields from arable crops.”
Project facilitator David Ross, from SAC Consulting, said he had witnessed the ups and downs of the project and seen the business improve in both livestock and arable enterprises.
He said: “I would encourage all with an interest in improving their farm business to attend the final meeting, which will look back at what has been learned and also look forward to where the Stodart family want to take their business.
The monitor farm meeting is on Thursday at Forfar Mart, 48 St John Street, Forfar, DD8 3EZ from 10.30am to 2.30pm.