Preparing winter grazing strategies will be the focus at the next meeting of Nithsdale Monitor Farm, set to take place on Thursday (September 20).

In particular, the event will zone in on improving pasture productivity through soil and grass management.

Independent grassland consultant Charlie Morgan from GrassMaster Ltd will be the key speaker at the meeting, which will be held at Clonhie Farm, Nithsdale Monitor Farm, Penpont, near Thornhill.

The event will be hosted by Andrew and Aileen Marchant, who farm at Clonhie.

The couple run 900 breeding ewes, a small herd of 20 Luing cattle and have recently invested in 100 deer hinds on their 300ha upland tenanted farm.

In the morning, the group will visit various fields and Andrew will lead a discussion on how Clonhie’s current grassland management could be improved.

“We have already done some reseeding, soil testing and applied lime to some of the fields at Clonhie but are keen to learn from Charlie if there is more than we can do to make improve our grazing and utilise our grass better,” Andrew said.

Last year we deferred some grass and paddock grazed over the winter for the first time to help keep our winter feed costs down.

“This worked well, and we want to look at ways of developing this further,” he added.

The group will also visit the neighbouring Glengar farm, which the Marchants took over the tenancy of in 2016.

“This is the first time we have taken silage off the fields at Glengar – which are currently being used as paddock-grazing for sheep. We want to see what can be done to increase grass yield and quality in the future,” Andrew continued.

Also at the meeting, Rhidian Jones of RJ Livestock Systems will share the winter feed budget that has been developed for Clonhie and explain what farmers can do to try and get their ewes into optimum condition before the tupping season begins.

Monitor farms

The Nithsdale monitor farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds.

The aim of the programme, which is funded by Scottish Government, is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting at Clonhie Farm on Thursday, September 20, will begin at 11:00am, end at 3:30pm and will include lunch.