Rural Affairs Secretary announces funding for projects in the Scottish farming sector.
The Scottish Government is providing £2 million to fund projects which will promote skills development, knowledge transfer, and deliver on-the-ground improvements to the farming sector in Scotland, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.
Five projects have been approved for funding through the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF), including the new Monitor Farm programme, which will receive £1.25 million and aims to improve productivity and farm business profitability.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
"This significant funding will help Scotland take advantage of its strong performance in research and development, and make sure that the learning from here and elsewhere can be transferred to on-the-ground improvements in agriculture, ensuring the flow of information and best practice farming into the community, where it can make a real difference to profits.
"Today's funding will also benefit projects which target lamb survival, dairy and pig efficiencies, and the development of a Strategic Potato Farm for Scotland."
Douglas Bell, head of industry development at Quality Meat Scotland, said:
"QMS has been at the heart of Scotland's Monitor Farms programme since the concept was introduced into Scotland in 2003. The blend of farmer to farmer learning, augmented by expert input, has successfully facilitated knowledge transfer and sharing of best practice within the farming sector.
"Previous programmes have taken a sectoral approach, but in order to address the challenges currently facing farmers, this new joint initiative between AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds and QMS will focus on improving whole business management and profitability. While maximising returns at enterprise level will remain integral, the relationships between different enterprises will be explored at a business, technical and environmental level.
"Each of the nine new monitor farms will have its own dedicated Management Team and an associated Business Group that will evaluate solutions and best practice before sharing its findings, both with the wider Community Groups and more generally, through various media channels including a dedicated website."
Grants will be awarded to the following projects:
- QMS and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds – to establish nine innovative Monitor Farms across Scotland
- SAC Commercial – improving lamb survival and farm profitability
- SAOS – to pilot an innovative and interactive farm-focused lean management approach
- AHDB Potatoes – to develop a Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm for Scotland
- Wholesome Pigs Scotland Ltd – to develop innovative uses of emerging technologies to improve pig production efficiency.
KTIF is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme through to 2020, which has two aims: to promote skills development and knowledge transfer in the primary agricultural sector, through training, coaching workshops and farm visits and; to deliver on-the-ground improvements in agricultural competitiveness, resource efficiency, environmental performance, and sustainability.
The scheme is aligned with the European Innovation Partnership for agricultural productivity and sustainability. This helps form partnerships between farmers, advisers and businesses working on the ground.