Rumbletonrig is putting the focus on efficiency

John Mitchell becomes the latest volunteer Focus Farmer in a Scottish Government funded initiative organised by Scotland's Rural College.

John Mitchell becomes the latest volunteer Focus Farmer in a Scottish Government funded initiative organised by Scotland's Rural College.

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A Greenlaw farm is opening its doors to other local farmers interested in exploring ideas for saving energy and costs through improved business efficiency.

On Wednesday (August 12), from 10.30am-2.30pm, Nigel Miller, former president of NFU Scotland will give the opening address when John Mitchell of Rumbletonrig, becomes the latest volunteer Focus Farmer in a Scottish Government funded initiative organised by Scotland’s Rural College.

It is helping farmers devise locally suitable ways to profitably adapt their enterprises to a changing climate while reducing emissions.

During the first three years of the Farming for a Better Climate initiative four host farmers saved almost £80,000 between them through paying attention to energy use and better management of resources, while at the same time lowering their farm’s carbon footprint by an average of 13% with no loss of production.

Rebecca Audsley from SRUC explained: “There is no one size fits all solution to cutting costs or tackling climate change. What works for one farm in one area might not suit another. So we are delighted John and his family have volunteered to make their farm a test bed for ideas suggested by specialist advisers and a local industry discussion group we want to set up.”

On 327 hectares John and his family keep 300 suckler beef cows and 250 breeding ewes. The main cropping is grass followed by spring barley and winter wheat. A proportion of the grass area is used to make silage which is stored in a clamp for winter feeding. Straw is retained for bedding.

John said: “Having spoken to other focus farmers I know you can learn a lot just from discussions with neighbours and visiting experts. Over the three year initiative, we will investigate ideas and share practical measures that suit Rumbletonrig and help us improve farm efficiency and resource use while, in turn reducing the farm’s carbon footprint.”

There will be an excellent mix of both SRUC and invited speakers to stimulate debate. Donald Dunbar will start with the basics and run a “know your soil” session. Moira Gallagher will explore issues connected to improving livestock production efficiency while Chris MacDonald will focus on making the most of animal manure.

From Scottish Government Gordon Struth will consider how the climate change agenda can be used to advantage while the value of woodland, not only for locking up carbon, but sheltering livestock and offering an income will be explained by Stephen Adlard.

The meeting is free but lunch will be provided. To book a place contact Donald Dunbar on 01835 823322 or email Donald.dunbar@sac.co.uk.