Blog •  02/03/2021

“Closing the loop”: Resilient and Ready farmer Harriet Ross looks to the long term

Well, 2021 got off to a good start for us at Newseat as we found out that our tenancy has been extended for a further seven years!

We only had one year left in our initial agreement, so knowing we’re going to be here for another eight years means we’re able to think much more about the long term. We will be much happier now to invest more of our funds and time into measures that will benefit the farm and environment.

We’ve been looking at an agri-environment scheme and the next step is to ask our landlord if they would be willing to back our application. We have a few grass fields we’d like to get into species-rich grass; we can’t plough them so we want them to generate some money while benefiting biodiversity on the farm.

With the extra time in our tenancy agreement it means we would be in control for the whole scheme period. We require our landlord to sign a declaration saying that they or the next tenant would take on the environmental scheme, so knowing we’re going to be around for the entire project mitigates that risk for our landlord.

I have been busy putting our application together – I’ve done a lot of these through my work for Strutt & Parker so it’s been great having that expertise as they’re not straightforward.

Elsewhere on the farm we’ve been focusing on making the business more productive. Around three quarters of the steading made no money at all last year so we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Organising projects takes time and we have taken on a lot of things ourselves as it means the process is more streamlined and we’re more in control.

Ultimately, we want to run a mixed farm. We keep coming back to the importance of closing the loop and keeping manure and grain on the farm as much as possible.

We’re hopefully one step closer to that goal now that our new lodgers have moved in. We’ve doubled our pig numbers from 1,400 to 2,800 and converted the specialised dairy units on site into units suitable for pigs so we’re well on our way to making the site more productive and sustainable.

ABOUT

· Farming in Aberdeenshire

· 153ha at Newseat of Dumbreck Farm on a tenancy from the Aberdeen Endowment Trust

· Nursery pigs and cattle on a bed and breakfast basis

· 215ha of arable land farmed in tandem with Harriet’s father’s

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