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Young Farmer Focus: Robert Campbell - 'It's been an outstanding year for grass growth'

Robert Campbell, 27, milks 160 dairy cows and finishes 180 beef cattle each year, as well as keeping 240 ewes and growing 32 hectares (80 acres) of cereals.

Weather: Here we are, approaching the end of July and it seems only the other week the discussions were about when it would be warm enough to warrant applying the first fertiliser to the grassland and how quickly we could get the delightful woolly grass thieves off the dairy cows’ grazing land.

 

However, since then the weather has been on our side.

 

Spring cereals were established in near perfect conditions and have not looked back since.

 

We can only hope this streak of weather continues for long enough for us to get it harvested.

 

As far as grass growth on the farm is concerned, we have had an outstanding year. With first cut silage filling both our first and second cut pits, and with the excess grass on the grazing land being turned into a substantial pile of bales, we are well on our way to having sufficient stocks of forage for winter.

 

Another side effect of the bumper grass yields has been that my fertiliser spreader has been parked in the shed since the end of May. It can wait there for the next few weeks at least.


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Dairy: We have an all-year-round calving dairy herd. However, some of the ladies seem to have decided over the past few years we should have an autumn block, so we currently have more cows dry than usual and quite a few almost at the point of drying off.

 

In the short-term, this means milk production is lower than we would like and, most annoyingly, lower than the more commonly used benchmark on the farm last year. However, this should be rectified in a few months once they have rejoined the milking herd.

 

YFC: Having just turned 27, I have been struggling to believe I have actually spent almost half my life as an active member of Crossroads YFC.

 

During this time, I have been fortunate enough to have met some extraordinary people and had some outstanding experiences.

 

Last December, I was lucky enough to be awarded a space on the SAYFC Agri Affairs study tour to California.

 

This was a real eye-opener and an experience I will never forget.

 

I guess the pinnacle of my Young Farmers career was last month at the Royal Highland Show where I won the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

 

It is unique, combining the practical and academic sides of modern agriculture, in both the qualifiers and the final at the show.

 

The business challenge really does force you into thinking about the bigger picture and make you look at your own business in a different light.

 

I really would encourage anyone with a strong interest in agriculture to take part next year.

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