Farms and Forestry
The MacRobert Trust estate is home to over 5,000 acres of farmland divided into nine main farm holdings. The main enterprises are barley for malting and stock feed, wheat largely for feeding, and grassland for beef.
Lady MacRobert originally farmed over half of the estate, with the rest being let, and was well known for her innovative approach to farming, being one of the first to bring Friesian milk cows to Scotland and being a great supporter of Highland and Aberdeen Angus cattle. This arrangement continued after Lady MacRobert’s death in 1954 until 1986 when Trustees decided to let out all the in hand farmed area.
The standard of farming on the estate is extremely important to the Trust and we work closely with our tenants to help them farm the land sustainably; financially and environmentally. It is likely that the farms will be expected to address climate and biodiversity issues whilst aiming to run profitable businesses producing good quality food. The Trust will do what it can to support its tenants to achieve these objectives.
Support for the Future of Farming
In keeping with the spirit of Lady MacRobert’s passion for both agriculture and young people, the Trust believes it is crucial to encourage younger generations into farming. The Trust has done this by ensuring that the farms are of a size to support two generations of the same family, sometimes in conjunction with land that tenants are renting from other landowners. We will also consider new entrants or those aiming to progress in farming, if the opportunity arises.
In 2020, The MacRobert Trust provided a substantial grant to enable a new “MacRobert Farming and Rural Skills Centre” to be built. This centre will be run by The Prince’s Foundation, based at Dumfries House, and will represent a significant boost to the UK’s rural industry. The state-of-the-art facility will enable The Prince’s Foundation to host events and hands-on workshops for around 1,800 participants each year, including secondary school pupils, school leavers showing an interest in land-based jobs, and adult learners looking for new careers as well as farming and rural sector workers looking to upskill.
There are around 1,800 acres of commercial forestry on the estate with 60% of the area being Scots Pine and just under 20% being mixed broadleaves and open ground. The management of the woodland is guided by our Long Term Woodland Plan, a plan we are required to produce by Scottish Forestry. The Woodland Plan has been in place for over ten years and its main objective is to ensure a reasonably steady flow of timber, both for sale and to retain to produce woodchips for the biomass heating system at Douneside, improve the financial position of the forestry enterprise, generally improve the quality of the timber and enhance environmental interest. To support this, we have a programme of thinning, clear felling and restocking.