Click to contact us or call 02476 353537

Duns Farmer Volunteers for Three years in the Spotlight New Arable Monitor Farmer Appointed in Borders.


The Borders has a new Monitor Farmer. Over the next three years volunteer Alistair Hodge, a thirty four year old cereal grower from Whitsome East Newton, Duns will have his farming methods and management scrutinised by his peers. Together they will seek to find better, more efficient ways of doing things. Supported by a facilitator, SAC Consultant Donald Dunbar, they will try new ideas in a project funded by HGCA, the cereal industry development body and Scottish Government.

Monitor Farms first developed in New Zealand where self-help groups of farmers replaced Government funded advisory system. SAC has played a key role in developing the concept in Scotland with Scottish Government and industry bodies like HGCA and Quality Meat Scotland providing funding and other support. The new Borders Monitor Farm at Duns follows on from Hugh Broad from Gifford, East Lothian who has just stepped back after three years in the spotlight.

Its success, like that of the new farm, depended on the input of the community group gathered round it. Members included local farmers and other industry representatives.  Those interested in joining the new group are invited to attend the first meeting in Whitsome Village Hall on Tuesday 22nd February at 1.30 pm.

Alistair Hodge arrived in the Borders in 2001 when, with his father and mother moved from a stock farm in Wigtownshire. Married to Marianne, with an 18 month old son, former SAC student Alistair leads on the day to day planning on the farm. He and his father John share the management decision making, while Mariannes accountancy expertise is invaluable.

I was extremely pleased to be selected as the new monitor farmer and looking forward to getting started.  I hope to be able to draw on the experience of others who have been arable farming for longer than us and trying out some new ideas put forward by the group.  The prospect of sharing details of the farm performance is a little daunting, but should ultimately improve the business going forward.

Whitsome East Newton is 156 Hectares (385 acres) with heavy clay soil. The cropping rotation includes winter barley, winter oilseed rape, winter wheat and spring oats. In addition the family let five cottages and finish cattle throughout the year under a management agreement.

Hugh Broad certainly feels his three years was worth it.

Being a Monitor Farm has exposed us to ideas, information, discussion and independent assessments of a host of machinery, systems and approaches giving us a better understanding of our production costs, grain marketing resulting in improved business decision making.

The arable Monitor Farm Programme is funded by HGCA (the cereals and oil seeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) with support from the Scottish Governments Skills Development Programme.  Steve Barras, HGCAs Supply Chain Manager said:

We are delighted to be starting a new arable monitor farm in the Borders. We look forward to working with SAC and Alistair Hodge.  This investment will bring physical and financial benefits to him and the wider community.

SAC monitor farm facilitator Donald Dunbar says Im looking forward to working with Alistair and seeing a good turn out at the launch meeting. The community group is an essential part of any monitor farm project and the contribution they make in group discussion and the collective experience they bring combined with the specialist input is what makes the monitor farm concept so successful.

Contact Donald Dunbar at  SACs St Boswells Office 01835 823322.

Event: First New Arable Monitor Farm Group Meeting.

Date: 1.30 pm. Tuesday 22nd February, 2011.

Location: Village Hall,  Whitsome, Duns. TD11 3NB.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * great opportunity to promote your business to our dedicated readership of farmers, landowners, estate managers and associated agricultural professionals.
Contact us today on 02476 353537 and let's work together to drive your business forward.