A FARM near North Berwick has been invited to take part in Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) Monitor Farm Scotland programme for the next four years.

The aim of the programme is to help farms reach full economic, social and environmental sustainability by optimising production.

During the next four years, farmers and experts will work together to assess farms’ performance, explore opportunities and develop solutions to challenges.

Castleton Farm, run by Stuart, Bill and Jo McNicol, was chosen to be the East Lothian Monitor Farm.

The farm’s arable acreage produces wheat, malting spring barley, spring beans, and cover crops that are grazed by sheep.

Stuart ploughs only when necessary, and most crops are established with a strip-till. He uses variable rate applications at drilling and for applying fertilisers and lime.

He also has an arrangement which means he has 75 Hebridean sheep on the farm year-round, and another which brings in 250 Blackface sheep at certain times of the year.

The business has diversified into storage units for letting, a wedding venue, a bakery kitchen on the farm for Drift – Jo’s nearby cafe – and has recently planted 2,000 fruit trees for juicing and future cidery.

Beth Alexander, Monitor Farm Scotland programme manager, said: “The Monitor Farm initiative has pioneered new ways of working, experimented with fresh ideas and, most importantly, helped to improve the productivity and profitability of the businesses it has worked with.

“The journeys these farms go on will be as unique as the farms themselves.

“The benefits of the programme extend well beyond the gates of the individual Monitor Farms.

“We want the learnings and the example set by Monitor Farms to benefit all farmers.”