Harvest, soil sampling and simplifying systems

It seems appropriate to pen another blog the day we start harvest 2014, with the combine out cutting oilseed rape as we speak.  The early start to this year’s harvest is extremely welcome, the rain showers that have also appeared today less so!

On 16 July we held our fourth meeting at Demperston and we were delighted to welcome along so many people, especially those who were in attendance for the first time, so thank you to everyone who joined us. The meeting was very upbeat despite the poor market conditions we are facing at the moment.  The management group had agreed on some agenda items for the day, including a presentation on soil sampling and precision farming.  It is not something we are currently undertaking at Demperston but the results of mapping two fields and the potential benefits we would generate have certainly made us think about it for the future.

I always find that the most beneficial part of the meeting is the interactive group sessions, expertly facilitated by members of our management group.  At this meeting the group discussion topics focused on:

1. Rotation planning

2. Variety choice and early season management

3. Cultivations and sowing

At Demperston we are keen to look at ways of simplifying existing systems and management practices, as I’m sure many people are, and the conclusions from these discussions are invaluable to us.  The Monitor Farm is only in its infancy but we are already seeing the potential benefits it can deliver not only to our business but to all those who attend.  Danny and I have been particularly pleased to see a healthy representation from across the generations at all of our meetings. The only thing left to tackle is encouraging a few more female participants!

Wishing everyone a happy and fruitful harvest until next time.



A fourth generation farmer, Danny Milne runs a mixed livestock enterprise at Auchtermuchty in Fife with his wife Alison and his parents. As well as 70 suckler cows and some sheep, the business grows 550 acres of cereals including spring barley, winter wheat, oilseed rape, field beans and oats. For the Monitor Farm project, a partnership between AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and Potato Council, the Milnes are joined by neighbour John Weir, who farms 150 acres of potatoes at Lacesston Farm. John is keen to work out how to get the best collaboration between landlord and tenant.