A SOUTH Lanarkshire farm, run with minimal Single Farm Payment by a young producer, has been appointed as the first ever Clyde monitor farm.
Carstairs Mains near Carstairs, run by Andrew Baillie (32), was selected from a strong line-up of applicants to be the area’s first monitor farm, supported by Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scheme.
Mr Baillie has been running the 650 acre farm for two years with his wife Jen and the couple have two young children, Rachel and Cameron. The unit includes 215 acres of grass and 150 acres of woodland along with 200 acres of spring barley, 20 acres of fodder beet, 13 acres of winter wheat and 10 acres of chicory.
The business runs 75 suckler cows which go to Limousin and British Blue bulls, with the Blue cross heifers kept as replacements and the remaining heifers sold as stores. The bull calves are kept entire and fattened for bull beef.
Mr Baillie also buys in 150 dairy bull calves from two local dairy farmers – his brother William and Alan Trainer. All the bulls are finished and sold direct to Scotbeef at 10-12 months and 550kgs.
The 200 head sheep enterprise is a combination of commercial and pedigree animals – 100 pure Beltex ewes, 30 pure Texels and 40 Beltex cross Texel ewes. Both flock and herd are operated on a closed basis, with only bulls and tups bought in.
Mr Baillie previously rented East Yardhouses farm at Carnwath before purchasing Carstairs Mains two years ago.
He said he was “over the moon” the farm had been selected.
“I first heard about monitor farms when I was working in New Zealand ten years ago and I was impressed with what I saw over there.
“Since then I’ve been keeping an eye on how the programme has been developing in Scotland so I was delighted when I heard about the opportunity to get involved in our area.
“I’m very open suggestions on how we could do things better and I’m hoping my whole farm will benefit. We’re farming with minimal Single Farm Payment so it’s difficult to make a profit and I’m certainly up for trying any new ideas which could improve farm profitability.”
Mr Baillie is also keen to take advantage of new technology. “We’ve introduced EID (electronic identification) into our cattle herd and we’ve really seen the benefits it can deliver with the bull beef side of our business, where we now have much more feedback on performance.”
Two facilitators have also been appointed to support the Clyde Monitor Farm – Grant Conchie of SAC, based at Lanarkand Raymond Crerar of SAC based at Ayr.
“The aim of the monitor farm is to improve the profit of the business involved, as well as improving the profitability of those who are members of the community group involved in the project, by close examination and trial of new ideas in key enterprises in the business.
“Peer review and knowledge exchange are hugely important to the process, and ultimately we aim to see smarter farm businesses that have learnt from participating in the project,” said Ian MacDougall, Technical Projects Manager, QMS.
The impetus to set up the Clyde monitor farm, as well as the Forth monitor farm which is due to be announced very soon, came from members of NFU Scotland’s Forth and Clyde region.
Tom French Regional Chairman of NFU Scotland’s Forth and Clyde said he was delighted the Clyde monitor farm and facilitators are now appointed.
“Andrew Baillie is a young farmer with tremendous enthusiasm for the monitor farm project who I’m sure will embrace the opportunity fully,” Mr French said.
“Carstairs Mains is a notable farm in the area with great scope and potential and I’m sure will provide an excellent base for discussion and deliberation during meetings of the community group.”
For further information on monitor farms and detailed reports of meetings visit www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitorfarms
Caption: New monitor farmer Andrew Baillie (centre) flanked by facilitators Grant Conchie (left) of SAC Lanark and Raymond Crerar of SAC (Ayr).