Two north-east farms have been selected to participate in a new three-year programme of training, consultancy and trials which aims to help the British industry prepare to be “resilient and ready” for the future.
Ben Lowe and Harriet Ross, who farm at Newseat of Dumbreck Farm, Udny, together with Craig and Claire Grant, Kindrought, Fraserburgh, will join the programme alongside two English farmers in a joint initiative by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and Corteva Agriscience.
It will focus on providing farmers with access to the best technical insight into their businesses coupled with the training to enable them to turn theory into commercial application.
The focus will be around Integrated Farm Management (IFM), including soil health, water quality and biodiversity, and farmers will also be given communications training.
Craig and Claire Grant started farming in their own right in 2010 by investing in egg production with a 72,000-bird laying hen business.
They bought and rented additional land and farm about 160ha with 150 high health status beef cattle and a joint venture running a 2,000-pig place finishing unit. They also act as contractors for neighbouring farms and run a small building firm.
Craig said: “Our farm is quite mixed with lots going on so we applied for this programme to help us tie all the different elements together.
“There could be scope for the different businesses to work in tandem, making us more profitable and more sustainable.”
Claire added: “We are also really interested in doing some detailed work on the carbon footprint of our farm and its output. We need to be far more clued up about what carbon we’re producing and look at the opportunities to offset it.”
New entrants Ben and Harriet took over Newseat of Dumbreck Farm on a three-year Farm Business Tenancy from the Aberdeen Endowment Trust in July.
Nursery pigs and cattle are housed on a bed and breakfast basis with 115ha of arable land farmed in tandem with Harriet’s father’s 180ha, about five miles away.
They work closely with a neighbouring farm supplying grass silage from 40ha of land to an anaerobic digester to improve the farm’s rotation and increase biodiversity.
Ben said: “We’re in a great position of being able to start at the beginning. We’re still learning about the land and the Resilient and Ready Programme with LEAF and Corteva will be an action-packed couple of years where we’ll be learning about ourselves and our farm as well as meeting like-minded farmers to share our experiences.”