LILIS Throwback 2019: Dumfries House

2019 marks the last in our series of LILIS throwback posts

2019 marks the last in our series of LILIS throwback posts, but it was a good one! Hosted at Dumfries House, the theme of the 2019 event was Holistic Management and an innovative approach to farming with livestock.

In today’s world, agriculture is under pressure to move to more climate-friendly practices, to be more environmentally conscious and to be able to robustly state our credentials for animal health and welfare.

LILIS 2019 delved into the principles of Holistic Management to see how achieving a balanced production system is better for animals, plants and most importantly the soil we must conserve.

The 2019 LILIS conference was held by kind permission of Dumfries House at their estate farm, Home Farm. At the time, Dumfries House’s Home Farm, was home to 100 cows – mainly Beef Shorthorn, Whitebred Shorthorns, and Veynols – and 650 ewes of a mixture of breeds.

The organic status of Home Farm, which was new at the time of LILIS last year, marked the realisation of a major element of the vision of HRH The Prince of Wales, who saved the estate for the nation 12 years ago. The commercial farm on the 2000-acre estate attained full organic certification in 2019 from the Scottish Organic Producers Association in recognition of its commitment to good farming practice.

The keynote speakers for the 2019 LILIS event were Christopher and Sheila Cooke, Savory Institute accredited professionals from 3LM, the Savory Network hub for the UK and Ireland.

Christopher and Sheila delivered an active learning workshop on how to read and work with the self-organising dynamic of nature, with the aim of encouraging delegates to look at their current farming practices and introduce some ideas that will enable them to unlock the full potential of their land.

The morning workshop introduced the four ecosystem processes, after which attendees were able to put learning into practice on a Land Discovery Tour at Home Farm on the Dumfries House Estate.

Christopher Cooke has 18 years of experience training, coaching and advising people in the adoption of a holistic mindset. With extensive leadership and advisory experience related to biological agriculture in the UK and Australia, Christopher will be able to offer an insight into environmental monitoring and control and the psychology and management of change.

With 20 years experience supporting international distributors to grow industrial businesses, Sheila Cooke is a pioneer in her field. With degrees in sociology/anthropology, and international business, Sheila and 3LM are looking to increase the number of hectares under the influence of holistic management in the British Isles.

After an initial welcome of tea and coffee for attendees, the conference kicked off with a welcome from SOPA and Home Farm. Challenging current thinking about land management was a theme running throughout the day. 40 farmer delegates, organic and non-organic, were introduced to four ecosystem processes – energy, mineral, water and community – that are active in the agricultural environment. The group also learnt about pedogenesis, the formation of soil.

The morning session was an active learning workshop entitled ‘Releasing the Power of Nature’, after which the conference broke for lunch.

After an intense morning workshop, the group went on a land discovery tour around Home Farm where they could put what they had learned into practice. They looked closely at different areas around the farm to assess the action and impacts of the four ecosystem processes. Delegates were then encouraged to take their new-found knowledge with them when they left the workshop so they could review their own land at home in the same way.

Attendees left with the knowledge of how to use a simple tool for analysing the function of the ecosystem processes on their farm. As soil is a fundamental building block of wealth, it’s worthwhile to understand what it’s telling us. Is it healthy? What could we do differently to unlock its full potential?

A positive day, and a fantastic opportunity to learn about the ideas and processes that 3LM are brining to the land management sector.


PO Box Golspie, KW106AA
Email: Tel: 0300 772 9795

Scottish Organic Producers Association, Registered Office is c/o Drummond Laurie, Algo Business Centre, Glenearn Rd, Perth, PH2 8BX.
Scottish Organic Producers Association is a Co-operative registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, Registration Number SP02278R. Organic Certification GB-ORG-17