Young farmers from all over the country attended the Scottish Association of Young Farmers' Clubs' first ever Agricultural and Rural Affairs conference last weekend.

The event was on the topic Precision in Practice, explored through farm visits and workshops. Held at North Queensferry and well supported by sponsors, it began with a welcome from the RBS's Craig Dickson.

There were a number of farm visits, which saw delegates interested in arable farming head to Mawcarse Farm, Milnathort, with the Young family; those from the dairy sector visited the Hamilton family's Meldrum Farm, near Blair Drummond, recently deemed Dairy Farm of the Year at AgriScot; while the Barr family, of Halhill Farm, Ladybank, hosted the beef and sheep visit.

The first of the formal presentations was by Clive Blacker, director at Precision Decisions, who pointed out the opportunities for farmers as the world population increases.

Stuart Hamilton, business development officer with RBS, continued the theme of an increasing population, and attendees learnt how innovation, enterprise and sustainability are key to farming from Campbell Scott, director of sales engineering with Massey Ferguson. Stuart Martin, from the Scottish Dairy Hub, looked at the dairy industry's challenges, and Frank Ross, general manager at ABP Perth, said consumers and supermarkets are looking for smaller cattle carcasses.

The final day was rounded off by Quality Meat Scotland's knowledge transfer specialist Michael Blanche.

Carol McLaren, also from QMS, then launched the Bright Sparks initiative in which SAYFC members can apply for up to £1,000 to develop an innovative idea of benefit to the Scottish livestock industry. Details can be found at

Premier Nutrition's Dr Donald Lawson examined cow signals and their importance before Heather Wildman, of Saviour Associates, launched the Youth Leadership Programme.

?For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday's issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit