Report from our Scotland study tour
PfL Membership Manager, Bryony Petty, reports on her experience at this summer’s Scotland Study Tour
Day 1 – Scotland Study Tour
“Over 30 farmers from across Scotland, Northumberland and as far as Wales, gathered to join the Pasture for Life team for what was an insightful two days of on-farm learning. We began our tour at Edston Farm, where Farm Manager Matt Griffin and the Benson Wemyss Farms team showcased their regenerative farming journey so far. Since reducing their inputs and adopting a more regenerative system, the farm has seen an increase in soil health and biodiversity. Lunch was delicious and focused on using local, Scottish ingredients cooked by our Scotland Regional Facilitator, Clem Sandison.
“After lunch the group headed down the road to Lyne Farm. Here we visited the farm’s bale grazing infrastructure, discussing the plans for out-wintering their animals and extending the grazing season, before heading to the hill blocks to observe the Benson Wemyss teams cattle and sheep mobs in action. To gain a deeper understanding of the impact from the above grazing has had on the below soil, throughout the tour a number of holes were dug and root depth and soil were analysed. It was clear to the group that rest and recovery were key.
“Tents were pitched, then the evening followed with the joining of the local community to the event, celebrating the connection between people, food and the community. Special guests such as Rob Harvard of Phepson Angus took to the stage, explaining the importance of cattle selection to produce an optimum herd, with Michael Barto explaining the importance of soil health. This was then followed by a wonderful poem by our very own Head of Research Nikki Yoxall. The guests were treated to an Argentinian-style asado BBQ and throughout the night the beers flowed, along with heartwarming conversations and tales of farming escapades.”
Day 2 – Scotland Study Tour
“The next morning brought certified Balcaskie Estate bacon and egg filled rolls before travelling to Oakwood Mill to visit Giles and Stuart Henry’s Upland Organic beef farm. There we visited their Pedigree Luing cattle, where we learnt that rotational grazing is key for their breeder-finisher system. Surrounding the farm were kilometres of hedgerows, with over 7km being planted by Stuart and Giles, in a pursuit to continuously increase biodiversity on the farm. The strength of their operation is that their cattle are outwintered on their hill blocks, expending their grazing season, with their steers being finished at 18-19 months before heading to Dovecote Park.
“We finished the tour with a discussion on the successful joint venture of Oakwood Mill Farm with Charley and Andrea Walker of Barnside Farm, displaying the key benefits of collaborating with other farmers to achieve goal and growth targets of livestock. With this successful joint venture seeing Charley and Andrea taking the Henry’s yearling Aberdeen Angus X to be finished. For both farms Farmax plays a key role in helping them to optimise their grazing platform encouraging target growth rates as assisting in budget decisions.
“At the heart of Pasture for Life is its community. A community full of knowledge, experience and support, and this was never more apparent than at this year’s Scottish Study Tour in the Scottish Borders. There’s no doubt that the conversations had on the study tour will continue, with many members gaining new contacts to share knowledge with. We know that new ideas have certainly been formed and exciting new on farm projects will no doubt be underway. We want to thank everyone who attend the event and made it the excellent day that it was.”