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Diversified Forfar farmers crowned AgriScot award winners

AGRITOURISM: The Nicoll family offer farm holidays and tours at NEwton of Fothringham.

The farm tour and holiday business run by Louise and Graeme Nicoll at Newton of Fothringham near Forfar has won Agriscot’s inaugural “diversified farm of the year” award.

The couple and their son Scott were presented with the award at a ceremony at Ingliston where event chairman Robert Neill said the judges had been “blown away” by enthusiasm for the new category.

Louise Nicoll on the farm at Newton of Fothringham.

The Nicolls are tenants on the 220ha arable and livestock farm at Inverarity,  and in response to significant financial challenges, they expanded the business to include tours and visitor experiences which can include whatever is happening on the farm on any particular day.

The award assessors praised Louise’s drive and commitment to the family farming ethos and for making use of the free resources available to drive her business and engage with customers.

They added: “We were impressed that not only had the Nicolls turned around their business finances, but also created an opportunity for their son Scott to consider succession within the family business.

“They have great plans for their collective future and have created a new way of working in the business which not only delivers financially but also creates connections with their local community.”

Bain Farm in Orkney  and Cairns Farm in West Lothian were the runners-up in the diversification category.

RHASS chairman Bill Gray is manager of Preston Hall Farms.

Local finalists for the other categories were pipped at the post, with the arable farm of  the year award going to Preston Hall Farms, Pathhead, managed by Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland chairman Bill Gray.

Also in the running were the Reid family from Mains of Mathers, Montrose and Tulloch Farms, Laurencekirk.

The beef farm of the year title was awarded to Lamont and Daniel Hare, Drumbreddan Farm, Stranraer, with the other finalists being the Fowlies from Adziel Farm, Strichen and Douglas Christie, Durie Farms, Leven.

The sheep farm of the year was revealed as Saughland Farm, Pathhead run by Peter Eccles and flock manager Owen Gray. The  runners-up were  Attonburn Farm, Kelso and Swinside, Townfoot, Jedburgh.

The Logan family won the AgriScot dairy farm of the year award.

The dairy farm of the year is Holehouse Farm run by the Logan family at Kilbirnie, Ayrshire which supports 280 pedigree Holstein cows.  Other finalists were East Brackenridge in South Lanarkshire and Queenscairn in Roxburghshire.

AgriScot’s business skills competition winner is  Emily Mosley, a Harper Adams graduate from Derbyshire who is currently working as a farm administrator near Tain.

Silage

The winners of the AgriScot silage competition were also announced.

Classes: Young farmers  1. Reuben Inman, Lockerbie, 2. Harry and Andrew Neill, Jedburgh, 3. Nigel Boyd, Dumfries. Big bale 1. Alex Sangster, Rosemount Farms, Blairgowrie, 2. Willie Cruickshank, West Mains Farm, Dumfries, 3. Gordon Nicolson, Welton Farm, Blairgowrie. Beef 1. Adam McIntosh, Stranraer, 2. Sam Carlisle, Dumfries, . Adam Wardrock, Cumnock. Dairy clamp 1. Daniel Rich,  Betobreak Farm, Stromness, 2. Willie Young, Waterside, Thornhill, 3. John Mackie, Dalfibben Farm, Dumfries.

Nofence Grazing Technology  won the  AgriScot innovation award for their GPS-controlled head collars for cattle, sheep and goats.

The technology  consists of a solar-powered GPS collar which marks the digital “fields” farmers set for any given area via a web portal run by the company and an  on the mobile phone network.

It means farmers can digitally set grazing areas and lets users track their animals’ movements. An audible signal acts as a the first “fence” and a small electric pulse as a  deterrent to keep them livestock within set boundaries.

Fences can be easily adjusted or moved, giving animals access to new areas and fresh pastures. Nofence also  alerts owners if anything untoward happens.

 

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