AYRSHIRE will go green tomorrow (Friday June 7), when the Scottish Organic Producers Association conference takes place at Home Farm on the Dumfries House estate, near Cumnock.

Following the success of previous 'Livestock in Low Input Systems' events, SOPA are once again joining forces with Organic Farmers and Growers to host the conference, which will be run from 11am to 4pm. Attendees will be able to find out more about Dumfries House's newly certified organic farm and the year-round events that happen. The conference will also include a long lunch with plenty of time for networking.

Dumfries House's Home Farm is home to 100 cows – mainly Beef Shorthorn, Whitebred Shorthorns, and Veynols – and 650 ewes of a mixture of breeds. Its new organic status marks the realisation of a major element of the vision of HRH The Prince of Wales, who saved the estate for the nation 12 years ago. The commercial farm on the 2000-acre estate attained full organic certification earlier this year from SOPA in recognition of its commitment to good farming practice.

John Rowell, farm manager, said: "It's been a long road to reach organic status, but we're delighted with the accreditation by SOPA. We completed a two-year conversion period to attain organic status so the change in practice has been gradual. The reaction to the farm's organic status has been great, too, with members of the general public always saying good, positive things about it.

"At Home Farm, we regularly host different breeds' societies, who come to share knowledge and gain an update on our progress. Even though this is a busy time of year for us, we're looking forward to hosting the LILIS event, which presents a chance to catch up with similar-minded people. I'm particularly looking forward to the presentations, including the talk on holistic raising and management, which is a fascinating subject."

The 2019 conference brings together some innovative thinkers to discuss this year’s theme: holistic management of the farm. The keynote speakers will be Christopher and Sheila Cooke, Savory Institute accredited professionals from 3LM, the Savory Network hub for the UK and Ireland.

They will deliver an active learning workshop on how to read and work with the self-organising dynamic of nature. This will encourage delegates to look at their current farming practices and introduce some ideas that will enable them to unlock the full potential of their land.

They will introduce the four ecosystem processes in a morning workshop, after which attendees will be able to put learning into practice on a Land Discovery Tour. Delegates will leave with the knowledge of how to use a simple tool for analysing the function of the ecosystem processes on their farm. As soil is a fundamental building block of wealth, it’s worthwhile to understand what it’s telling us. Is it healthy? What could we do differently to unlock its full potential?

Christopher Cooke has 18 years of experience training, coaching and advising people in the adoption of a holistic mindset. With extensive leadership and advisory experience related to biological agriculture in the UK and Australia, Christopher will be able to offer an insight into environmental monitoring and control and the psychology and management of change.

With 20 years experience supporting international distributors to grow industrial businesses, Sheila Cooke is a pioneer in her field. With degrees in sociology/anthropology, and international business, Sheila and 3LM are looking to increase the number of hectares under the influence of holistic management in the British Isles.

Keynote speaker Ms Cooke had the following to say: “It will be a really educational day, not just for the attendees, but for us too, as we get to meet farmers from across the country and hopefully discuss ways they can put holistic management into practice on their land.”