A Highland farmer has established an innovative digital hub in a bid to help move the agricultural industry forward.
As well as being a partner in Swordale Farm and Swordale Farm Butchers in Bonar Bridge, Sandy Watt has used his knowledge and expertise to establish an innovative digital hub in a bid to help move the agricultural industry forward.
In his most recent venture, the young entrepreneur has used past experiences to create the Livestock Lounge website as a platform to focus not only on livestock, but on incorporating a range of agri-related matters.
The site offers people the opportunity to come together to discuss all aspects of the industry, sharing news and photos along with areas to post goods for sale and update information about events taking place in the agricultural calendar.
Sandy has also created a YouTube channel to feature short videos on farming related topics, alongside interviews with industry experts.
Currently focusing on the UK and Ireland, it is hoped that the site will eventually attract industry enthusiasts from across the globe.
Sandy said: “I would like to focus not only on livestock, which is my passion, but also on agri-environmental factors facing our businesses. We live in very uncertain times where our industry is being continually hampered by political issues such as Brexit, new trends and lifestyle choices.
Sandy first demonstrated his entrepreneurial flair in 1992, when aged just 11, he purchased his first Aberdeen Angus cow with heifer calf at foot to join the Swordale Aberdeen Angus Herd. He went on to show the cattle and win various prizes throughout the 1990s.
After leaving the farm to study Geology at The University of Aberdeen in 2002, he graduated with an Honours degree in 2006.
He then went on to work on exploration wells in the oil industry where he travelled to many parts of the world. During this time, he invested in the Angus herd and returned to Swordale on a full-time basis in 2012. The following year he bought a partnership in the local village butchers’ shop.
For two-and-a-half years, whilst still farming he worked at the shop, gaining experience in butchering and building his skillset, but today this is staffed to enable Sandy to focus on his other business ventures.
His main passion lies with the Aberdeen Angus breed and the Watt family currently have 40 pedigree calving cows at Swordale. He hopes to build the numbers up to 70 in the near future.
He made the decision to establish Livestock Lounge in 2017, and it was launched in February of this year. The site was built in a bid to bring people in the industry together to share information, views and opinions, whilst being able to promote their farm businesses at the same time.
Sandy said: “Farming on the whole is a very price sensitive sector which is under continuous market pressures that sees fluctuating prices. This is controlled by numerous variable factors such as politics, economy and the environment. Our aim is to bring all of these issues together on this hub to move our industry forward in a positive manner.
Sandy added that environmental issues are of interest to him given his geological knowledge of Earth History: “We can see long and short-term Climatic changes throughout the geological record relating to various factors such as the geographic position of the continents, volcanism and changes to ocean circulation. As a farmer however, It’s important to note how the industry is already supporting the reduction of greenhouse gasses.”
Sandy explained that he is currently working to have a dedicated section on this topic included within Livestock Lounge.
He concluded: “Livestock Lounge has been established to be fun but informative and educational. It needs to act as a supportive tool for the farmer and any industry enthusiasts.