A HALLINGTON farmer is one of five to be selected as part of a national productivity scheme.

Steven Lawson, of South Farm, was recruited in September to become a recognised as an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Strategic Farms.

The programme is designed to help producers improve the performance of their livestock enterprise over two years, through regular guidance and support from AHDB consultants.

“We were flooded with applications this year, after the success of the first run of the scheme when it launched in 2017,” Sam Charlton, knowledge exchange manager of the programme said.

“Farmers were suddenly aware of the benefits of having another pair of eyes come to the farm to look at what works, and where there is room for improvement.

“Steven beat off a lot of competition, so it is a real achievement for him.

“He particularly wanted to focus on improving the productivity and efficiency of his flock of 630 Texel and Texel Cross Mules, and we were looking for a sheep farm to focus on, so the stars aligned.

“The programme is not only a great opportunity for farmers to receive one-to-one expert, but it also provides a ideal opportunity for knowledge and data sharing between farmers themselves, through the open days the participants hold on the farm throughout the year.”

On these days, the farm gates are opened to farmers within a 30 to 60-mile radius, who typically share similar weather and land conditions, and sometimes breeds. This then means that they have the chance to see what improvements have been made on the Strategic Farm, and what new experiments might not have worked to expectations.

“This then means that those visiting farmers can take away ideas and then implement them on their own farm.”

On the 325-acre farm which Steven runs with his family, the main goals are to improve his grassland management and winter grazing strategy and forage utilization, which means looking at better ways of producing his own feed on the farm rather than buying it in from elsewhere.

He is also keen to better monitor performance of my rams to help make informed decisions about selecting those with a proven track record and profitable return.