Diary Date for 2013 meetings :

28th November (Closing Meeting)

This meeting concluded the project and summarsied the effect of changes made at the farm during the past three years.

Final report Monitor Farm Nov 2013



14th Meeting

We looked at the cattle enterprise and found that profit was performing well in comparison to QMS industry standards.  EID was discussed, with presentations from Hazel Strachan of Shearwell describing how EID recording can work in the field, and how to make best use of EID computer software in the office.  Also discussed was the threat of BVD to naive herds.  A BVD outbreak has cost Mains of Thornton in excess of £65/cow this year. The majority of the community group felt that the Scottish BVD Eradication Programme would not be effective until vaccination was mandatory.

Download the report here Mains of Thornton 2013 August 27th

13th Meeting

The Cropping enterprise at Mains of Thornton

Top Tips

1. Set up an organic benchmarking group to
continue learning lessons from the Mains of
Thornton group
2. Trial new crops in a small area before
deciding if they are worthwhile introducing
to the crop rotation

Download the Meeting Report Mains of Thornton Report 4th July 2013

12th Meeting

The Sheep Enterprise at Mains of Thornton: Where will it go now?

Top Tips

1. Be specific and focussed about the strategic aims for trait selection in a flock breeding programme

2. Analyse the flock inputs within your control and don’t be side tracked with wasted effort on factors outwith your control

Download the Meeting Report Mains of Thornton Report May 23rd 2013

11th Meeting

31st January 2013 (joint monitor farm meeting and SRUC Organic Outlook Conference)

Top Tips

Always keep marketing in mind when making decisions. It’s always relevant.  

  • Lambing time – Mains of Thornton start in February to produce finished lamb for the early market to gain the premium prices
  • Taking good samples of grain for analysis ensure you have a realistic value of quality for marketing - and keep up good links with your buyers.
  •  And as the group learned at the August 2012 meeting at McIntosh Donald, finish stock to what the market is asking for.


Download the meeting and conference report here Mains of Thornton report, 2013 Jan 31

10th Meeting, November 8th 2012 11am - 3pm


  • 2012 enterprise reports
  • 2012 annual summary
  • Mains of Thornton Soil and Water Audit

Download the meeting report Mains of Thornton 2012 Nov 8

9th Meeting, Satellite meeting tour of McIntosh  Donald, 23rd August 2012

Abattoir Feedback: What you can get and how you can use it

Fluke, lungworm and carcase grades.

With thanks to Murray Gibb and the team at McIntosh Donald for their hospitality, and Don View Vets for contributing to the health discussion.

Download the meeting report Mains of Thornton 2012 Aug 23

8th Meeting, Open Farm Tour and BBQ 17th July 2012

  • Pea Oat arable silage
  • Wholecrop multi-crop with the Hybrid brassicas Swift and Redstart
  • silage quality and winter feeding after a tricky summer
  • mineral supplementation

Top Tips

If you haven’t got quality grass silage cut, consider whole cropping cereals (rather than combining) as additional feed for this winter.  Start sourcing straw NOW.  Use soil and forage analysis to detect trace element deficiencies in livestock, and offer minerals at recommended rates that meet your specific herd/flock requirements

Download the meeting report here Mains of Thornton 2012, July 17

7th Meeting, March 22nd 2012

  • demonstration of the Roundhouse cattle handling system
  • Cows
  • Soil Analysis and GPS Mapping
  • Muck analysis and approved nutrient sources

Top Tips

Combine information from precision soil testing and nutrient status of composted dung so that nutrients can be targeted in the field. Targetting nutrient applications saves precious dung and saves money when purchasing inputs such as lime, potash and phosphate.

Meeting Report March 22nd 2012



6th Meeting January 26th 2012

This meeting concentrated on the Sheep, Beef and Crops&Grassland sub-group break out discussions.

Meeting Report January 26th 2012

5th Meeting November 3rd, 2011

  • forage trials
  • slag trials
  • enterprise reports
  • silage analysis and winter feeding option
  • SNH environmental project
  • setting up sub-groups

Top tips

1. Fodder Beet not a wise choice in organic systems
2. Combined cropping of peas and barley worthwhile
3. The right type of slag can be a cost-effective
nutrient source and liming agent

Meeting Report November 3rd 2011


4th Meeting, August 8th 2011 Satellite meeting in the Scottish Borders

courtesy of Andrew Dalrymple, Fala Mains, and Jim Sutherland, Hillus

  • Sheep Scab control in organic farms 
  • Targeted Selective Treatment of sheep internal parasites
  • demonstration of EID automated sheep handling system

Top tips

Targeted Selective Treatment for Worm Control in Sheep – optimal use of wormers based on monitoring live weight gain in lambs. Maintain production across flock, better finishing times, lower costs by targeting wormer use.

Meeting Report August 8th 2011

3rd Meeting, June 16th 2011

  • Farm tour of soils, crops and grassland
  • soil texturing
  • SNH environmental project on the farm

Top Tips

Get to know your soils!
• Dig a soil pit and have a good look at your soil profile – don’t do it just when you’re ditching
• Get to know your soil types – hand texture – you’ll be surprised how it varies between and around fields
• Use this ‘hands on’ knowledge side by side with regular soil analysis to help crop and grassland management

Meeting Report, June 16 2011

2nd Meeting, March 10th 2011

  • Demonstration of the TMR system in the Roundhouse
  • Is a February lambing the right thing for this business?
  • Advantages
    Spread of labour
    Price of lambs May/June
    No lamb wormer
    Spread of risk
    Age of lambs when grass growing
  • Disadvantages
    Cost of feed and bedding
    Lack of indoor space if bad weather
    Housing costs
    More months spent lambing

Top Tips

Using plastic jackets for turning out lambs.
• Helps lamb survival in poor weather
• Costs 15p per lamb
• Biodegradable
• No problems with mothering
• Would consider use for April lambing in bad weather

Meeting Report 10 March 2011

1st meeting, January 14 2011

  • Introduction to the farm
  • Farm tour
  • Whole Farm Review
  • Baseline analysis of soils and forage

Top Tips

Roof-top rain harvesting off the roundhouse for cattle
drinking water
• Gravity fed
• Usefully recycles water
• No time wasted defrosting pipes in December’s big

Report from the meeting, 2011 Jan 14