INNOVATION through collaboration with researchers will be the main focus at the upcoming Lothians monitor farm meeting, to be held on Wednesday, December 12.

Having initially partnered with the Moredun Research Institute to bring new livestock research findings onto farm, the team at Lothians monitor farm is now looking to link up with the James Hutton Institute in order to take its arable operations up a gear.

Monitor farmer, Bill Gray, who manages the fully arable Prestonhall Farms, explained: “We partnered with Moredun after a really engaging technology meeting they came along to last year.

“There is so much valuable research going on at places like the Moredun Research Institute and the James Hutton Institute and we really want to trial some of their work on farm and share with other farmers what might work for them in a commercial environment.”

The Lothians management team has already visited the James Hutton Institute to find out more about ongoing work, and is particularly interested in projects, like the centre for sustainable cropping, which aims to test cropping systems which optimise both yield and environmental sustainability.

At the upcoming meeting, a scientist from the James Hutton Institute will share some of the most commercially practical projects which could then be trialled at the Lothians, with the group deciding which would be best to take forward in 2019.

The approach mirrors the work ongoing with the Moredun Institute, which has seen Lothians monitor farmer, Peter Eccles, who is a mainly livestock farmer based at Saughland Farm, successfully implementing targeted selective treatment for worming lambs, as well as pen-side testing for sheep scab.

During the event, the group will also be joined by Niall Jeffrey, who farms at Bielgrange in East Lothian, recently named as AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year.

Niall will discuss how the farm is currently working with UK Agritech Centre, Agri-EPI, on improving the efficiency of his beef enterprise through better use of technology. The farm currently uses a beef monitor system to weigh the livestock every time they take a drink, and they also wear collars, which provide early warnings of any health and fertility issues.

Commercial farms manager for Agri-EPI, Gavin Dick, said that the work can help farmers make better use of available technologies to improve production.

He commented: “Imaging and sensor technologies give livestock and arable farmers the opportunity to detect and solve problems earlier, for example, identifying potential livestock health issues before any clinical signs appear.

“They can then make informed management decisions earlier, which should improve production efficiency.”

At the end of the meeting, Niall will be joined by the James Hutton Institute scientist and Quality Meat Scotland chair, Kate Rowell, for an open question and answer session with the community group.

The meeting on December 12 will be held at the Juniperlea Inn, Pathhead, and all are welcome to the event, which is free. Lunch will be provided at 12noon and, for catering purposes, those interested in coming along should confirm attendance with Colin MacPhail on 07747 046461 or at The meeting is expected to finish by 4pm.

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit