Backing Scottish Farmers
Three dairy farmers have formed the first working group in Scotland’s new Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS), launching today, Friday 9 February.
RISS, part of the Scottish Rural Network, will provide farmers, foresters and crofters in Scotland with a collaborative way to explore their business ideas. As partners, Innovative Farmers are providing the platform for farmers and facilitators to share their ideas, so you may see lots of RISS projects on this portal.
Led by Soil Association Scotland, one of 40 facilitators from partner organisations, SAC Consulting, SAOS and Scotland Food and Drink will help the land managers form a working group to develop and test solutions.
The facilitator will bring in members from any useful sector – such as supply chain business, tech, research, marketing - depending on the group’s aim. The group will work towards a project plan which can be used to access funding or just to get started.
Speeding up breeding
In the first group, Rory Christie of Dourie Farm, Charlie Russell of Glenapp Estate and Graham Armstrong of Kirvennie Farm want to combine their herd data with genetic testing and affordable embryo transfer, with the aim of speeding up cattle breeding.
Rory Christie said: “At the moment my farm, and dairy production in Scotland in general, struggles to be profitable enough to survive. I’ve done everything I can to produce more for less, and it’s still not enough.
“But if I could speed up breeding, I would increase my annual milk volume per cow by 1000 litres – that’s £200,000 extra income per year on my farm. If I had a herd of the best cows, all my worries would be over!”*
Facilitator Hamish Walls of SAOS is currently recruiting a dairy cow geneticist, a data specialist and an agricultural scientist to complete the group.
Launching RISS ahead of delivering the keynote speech at tomorrow’s NFUS AGM, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Innovation is key to transforming our productivity as a country and is one of the four economic priorities of this Government.
“Our rural businesses are blessed with the skills, expertise and potential to drive our economy forward. All they need is the right support at the right time, delivered in the right way.
“That is why I am delighted to be able to announce the launch of a new Rural Innovation Support Service.”