Monitoring latest work on the farm

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AN update on Northumberland’s Monitor Farm will be given at a meeting next week.

Farmer Simon Bainbridge is heading into the third full year of the Monitor Farm Project at Donkin Rigg, which aims to improve efficiency and productivity and share successes and failures with others in the agricultural industry.

After a mild winter the farm is in a strong position heading into spring, with feed levels looking promising, and due to exceptional forage yields last year Mr Bainbridge estimates a saving on the cost of feed, fuel and labour of around £40,000.

Autumn lamb sales were good and there are still about 400 lambs to sell as keeping them longer was part of the overall strategy.

The farm is now gearing up for another busy lambing period.

Many cattle from the farm are being sold to Dovecot Park for Waitrose and Mr Bainbridge has been invited to take part in a trial for Waitrose meats, focusing on home grown protein.

He will make the transition to 100 per cent spring calving a year earlier than originally planned.

Mr Bainbridge will also tell of his study trip to New Zealand, and a farm business system for pasture management he discussed while there is proving hugely beneficial.

Other topics covered were measures to eradicate TB, cow efficiency, sheep efficiency and cutting edge grazing.

He said: “I have definitely reaped the benefits of both my own personal and professional development as a result of the numerous mentors and support networks on board the Monitor Farm scheme.

“Donkin Rigg would not be the farm it is today without the trials and input from cutting edge technology and professionals in their field offering advice.”

The meeting about the monitor farm is open to all farmers in the region.

As well as Mr Bainbridge’s Donkin Rigg update, Alnorthumbria Vet Group’s John McFarlane will give details of the land trace elements trial and there will be a presentation by Principal Livestock Consultant Kate Phillips, of ADAS, about the results of grass, blood and soil samples taken last year.

The meeting will take place at Morpeth Rugby Club in Mitford Road on Thursday, March 1, at 7pm.

Anyone interested in attending should call 0870 6091840 or email