Tackling an emotive subject

A few weeks have passed since our last Monitor Farm meeting, and we have now had time to reflect on some of the topics discussed.  There were a number of key issues for discussion but the greatest source of reflection has been on our discussion relating to succession planning.  It is always difficult to know how best to tackle such an emotive subject but both Danny and I and our management group were in no doubt that we wanted to approach it with the right attitude and enthusiasm.

It was important to us to find out what issues mattered most to those attending our meetings, rather than bringing in speakers to cover topics under the assumption that we knew best!  It turned out to be exactly the right approach and we were heartened by the honest and frank discussion that took place amongst each group.

The issue of succession planning is of course individual to every farm business but we discovered some real areas of commonality and it is these that we will focus on at our next meeting on 10 December.  It would be fair to assume that we won’t solve everyone’s issues but all we can hope is that we generate thoughts and ideas that encourage people to approach the subject and plan for the future.

In addition to succession planning we also had our regular marketing update and our first financial update from a banking representative.  On the technical side we had our usual crop walk and much discussion over our Claydon drill trial plot, with various different views of how appropriate its use at Demperston could potentially be in the future.  There is no doubting the time and efficiency savings that can be made and we will be reviewing the progress of our trial plot with great interest.

It is now only two weeks until our next meeting and once again we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Demperston – it’s hard to believe a year has passed already.  In that year we have been very encouraged at how people have engaged in the project and we have certainly benefited from the opportunity to learn from our fellow farmers.



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.