Farmer Collaboration in ‘Machinery Rings’

Farmers in Scotland have numerous opportunities to collaborate formally and informally.  We focussed specifically on machinery rings as an example of a formal collaboration which has evolved in response to changing industry needs.  The concept of ‘machinery rings’ extends beyond the sharing of farm machinery and includes access to other resources such farm labour, competitively priced commodities and farm supplies (e.g. fuels, fertiliser, seed) and training.   Nine machinery rings exist in Scotland, including the largest, Ringlink, which operates across the North East region and has an annual turnover of over £30 million.  We have explored the suggestion that this type of formalised collaboration has the potential to increase the economic, social, and possibly the environmental sustainability of farming, by enabling farmers to respond to social, technical and environmental changes influencing the agriculture sector (e.g. high capital cost of machinery, reduced availability of farm labour, weather and climate), as well as wider issues relating to ever fluctuating economic and changing policy environments (e.g. global food markets, CAP reforms).   This research has included interviews with a range of stakeholders, ranging from farmers to ring management and key organisations that relate to the farming sector. We have also conducted a number of focus groups with machinery ring members in the North East (Ringlink) and Borders (Borders Machinery Ring) regions.

Research reports: