Keeping on eye on Borders arable monitor farm

Lord Taylor of  Holbeach with Alistair Hodge at Whitsome Farm
Lord Taylor of Holbeach with Alistair Hodge at Whitsome Farm

AN open day at arable monitor farm Whitsome East Newton, near Duns, was attended by about 55 farmers last Thursday when visitors learned about crop establishment, nutrient management, agronomy and marketing.

Farmers father and son John and Alistair Hodge contract finish cattle and grow winter wheat and barley for feed, and oats and milling wheat, on their 156 hectares (385 acres).

The event organiser, St Boswells-based Scottish Agricultural College senior consultant Donald Dunbar, said: “The day went well and probably about half the people there hadn’t been [to a monitor farm open day] before.

“The great thing about monitor farms is it brings in technical expertise adding to the knowledge of the people already there. If people are more informed they make better decisions.”

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, parliamentary under- secretary at Whitehall’s DEFRA ministry, visited Whitsome East Newton earlier this summer in his role investigating the part monitor farms play in transferring knowledge from the laboratory to the land manager.

Alistair said of the visit: “It gave us a chance to hear what the UK Government is considering investing in agriculture and the science link. For Lord Taylor, it gave him an insight into our monitor farm project and what technologies are being used and developed for use in practical agriculture.”