November. The month for meetings. Today has been no exception as I attended the launch of the HGCA monitor farm at Richard Reed’s holding near Berwick.
I know a bit about being a monitor farmer as we were a Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) monitor farm three years ago and I wish the Reed family all the best as they embark on the next three years of questions, questions and even more questions and sometimes even some answers.
See also: Vegetable harvest plans in tatters
But it is a very worthy cause. They and the group of farmers that get involved will get an enormous amount of enjoyment and benefits from it.
All too often farmers do not take the opportunity to scrutinise their businesses properly, or for that matter, have serious yet convivial discussions about some of their methods unless there is a large glass of something alcoholic in their hand. In these circumstances most of what will be said will come under the heading “b*******”.
Here we are having some debate about what we should be doing about tractors. We had a policy of having three tractors the same size, with the newest one moving on to lighter duties after three years and still lighter duties three years after that with a new one coming into position one.
That plan lasted for about a year, now we have a fleet that is ageing so something needs to be done and I am seriously considering hiring a tractor instead.
We would avoid tying up an enormous amount of precious working capital, but I worry about not having a lump of metal that is mine, which fortunately happens not to depreciate quite as fast as the accountant tells you it does.
Already the new monitor farm has taught me something, because I now know a farmer whose front line tractors are probably actually appreciating. But if you want to find out how he does it, you will have to come to the next meeting.
Neil Thomson farms 607ha in partnership with his father and brother from Caverton Mill, Kelso, on the Scottish Borders, growing combinable crops and brassicas. Some of the mainly medium loam is let for potatoes, and the farm also has cattle and sheep.