For the first visit, I went off to the Exiles discussion group meeting at Glenapp estate in South Ayrshire.
I've been a member - or Dourie has been a member - of the Exiles discussion group for many years now. It consists of a number of businesses that are all spring calving, spread right across from Glenapp in South Ayrshire right into Cumbria and the Eden Valley.
They're all top operators. It's a benchmarking group where we benchmark financial outcomes using comparative farm profit. Over the years, it's been hugely helpful to me, I've learned an awful lot from the people in the group. I definitely improved my farming from my learning in a peer to peer way. It's also really good fun, because we're all friends now and respect each other highly. We go off on tour once a year, but we also visit each other's farms and have a topic of discussion and see what can be learned.
This time when we were at Glenapp, we were looking at their renewable energy system, their ground source heat pump, and their drying grass and particularly the drying red clover which makes high value, high protein concentrate. We looked at the growing crop, we looked at the machine that drives it and we looked at the dry product.
We also looked at the cows and the most recent investments (they've made they bought the next door farm) and they've built a road network to connect the new farm to the old farms and I would say it is really made the dairy enterprise work very well because it's cut walking distance of the cows from 2.1 kilometres to 900 metres), so they are already getting return on investment.
Charlie Russell is the factor/ farm manager of Glenapp estate. Charlie has always been an innovative and forward thinking guy and, in fact, totally amazing. There was no dairy in that farm when he started and he since grown it to 1000 cow spring block, grazing herd so you know, he's somebody that everybody can learn from.