Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries
Take an impressive dairy farm, an arable enterprise, a major research establishment and a charismatic farmer at the top of his game to run it all, and you have a recipe for outstanding success.
That’s the story behind Hugh McClymont, the research farm manager who leads a remarkable agri-enterprise at the Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries. Under the watchful eye of the industry and academia, Hugh and his team deliver dairying excellence while also conducting vital research for Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the dairy sector
His scientific work ranges from genetics and feed projects to studies on cow behaviour, soil compaction, grazing treatments and greenhouse gas emissions. Much of the learning benefits farmers through industry sharing and some of the research is even helping producers as far away as Malawi.
Hugh is in his element and has been since the day he started at Crichton as a herdsman 34 years ago. He has revelled in the unique variety of his job, which plays to his personality, but also demands great attention to detail.
Behind the jovial character lies a determined multi-tasker and leader who is responsible for the overall management of 310ha and two separate dairy units at Acrehead and Crichton, with 510 cows and 310 youngstock. He also grows grass, maize, wheat, red clover, spring beans and lucerne and has a team of seven full- and seven part-time staff.
Despite his longevity at Crichton, Hugh has driven growth at every opportunity by renting neighbouring land and investing in more buildings and a new milking parlour.
“Hugh is an exceptional dairy farmer; he manages to get the best out of his business and seems to thrive on the challenges set by being part of SRUC.”
Chairman, Dairy Pro
As part of a five-year research project, two new milk production systems have been introduced at the main unit at Crichton. Hugh has 100 cows on feeds bought from a by-product source, plus another 100 cows that are totally fed from the farm with only minerals and vitamins bought in.
While the Crichton Royal Farm is no normal dairy enterprise, Hugh aspires to continually improve performance. He has reduced reliance on nitrogen fertiliser from 130t 10 years ago to less than 50t today.
Animal welfare is one of Hugh’s strongest cards and he has been exploring new ways of calf rearing with large igloos to make the most of open ventilation.
Environmental management is also high on his agenda, as the farm is a LEAF Innovation Centre. As chair of the Maize Growers Association, Hugh has organised a trip to southern Ireland this summer to better understand growing maize under plastic. He is passionate about inspiring others and educating consumers and children about farming through his role as a local director of the Royal Highland Education Trust.
“This year’s finalists have shown a determination to continually evolve their businesses. This demonstrates a huge commitment to British dairy farming, something we should all be very proud of.”