Monitor Farm young farmers

16 March 2015, Rachel Matheson

The Black Isle Monitor farm has so far provided a variety of different learning opportunities for young people interested in agriculture.  The Black Isle Monitor Farm Young Farmer’s Spring Barley Challenge has been set by the management group of the Monitor Farm.  The aim of the challenge is for a group of Young Farmers to make the business and practical decisions then market the crop, with the hope of beating Ballicherry’s average profit margin. The group was formed in November 2014, and consists of six members of InverRoss Young Farmers Club. To date we have had four business meetings, including one with an agronomist, and we keep in touch via a Facebook group, email and texts.

The total area of our field is approximately 7 hectares and it is split by a burn, making two smaller fields, so it’s typical of most fields at Ballicherry.  We have decided to grow Concerto SB as it was a cost-effective option because we can obtain farm-saved seed from Ballicherry, and there were several contracts available for marketing the crop.  We have decided to apply Fibrophos fertiliser, which has a value of 0-16-16 and also includes trace elements, onto our field post-ploughing. This will be followed by the drilling of our seed alone, instead of combination drilling seed and fertiliser together. Once the barley has emerged it will then be sprayed with a high nitrogen liquid fertiliser.

We are hoping to produce two 27 tonne loads, and have therefore sold our crop on two different contracts, one being a fixed price, the other being a min/max.

Now that the weather is starting to improve, and the ground is drying out, we are hoping to get ploughing. Then we’ll get our fertiliser spread, which will have to be applied with a lime spreader, then drill our crop.



Black Isle growers Brian and Caroline Matheson from Ballicherry Farm in Balblair run a mixed enterprise of 332 hectares, consisting of 190 hectares of spring barley grown for certified seed and malting, 42 hectares of winter wheat grown for certified seed, 25 hectares of oilseed rape and 35 hectares of potato and carrot lets, together with 40 hectares of permanent grassland carrying 100 ewes, 100 over-wintered cattle and 25 suckler cows. The farm also carries out carrot growing and mobile grain dressing contracting operations. Caroline operates a Care Farming enterprise which runs alongside the commercial farming operation.