The day we start sowing

It has now been a few weeks since our second Monitor Farm meeting. It went very well, but it seemed appropriate to write our next blog on the day we start sowing for the 2014 harvest.  The weather has been very kind to us and made conditions on the land perfect for sowing, but there is always something to complain about regarding the weather. This time it is the fault of the wind that is preventing us from top-dressing.

Although the land work is only just about to begin in earnest we have been very busy at Demperston, with calving starting in January and lambing getting underway now.  It can be a testing time but we have been very fortunate with the weather: lambs can go out a few days after they are born, also a bonus when we are venturing out in the middle of the night and not having to put on five layers of clothing to keep warm!

This week also saw the first meeting of our benchmarking group and it was great to see such enthusiasm and willingness to share information.  It is very exciting for Danny and me to get into the guts of our figures and start to identify ways of improving and adding value to our enterprises.

So far we have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Monitor farm network and we are very excited about the next few years, both for our own business and for everyone who will take part in the project.  A bit like the weather, though, there is sometimes a downside. Unfortunately Danny’s came when he was rushing to get to the benchmarking meeting and had a little accident with a piece of machinery.  Don’t worry – it wasn’t serious – and a good wife would never disclose her husband’s mistakes, so you will just need to come along to the next meeting and ask him!



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.