Helping farmers improve their businesses

AHDB’s Monitor Farm programme continues to help farmers identify ways to improve their businesses, three years on from the launch of the project in England and Wales.

The latest annual survey of AHDB Monitor Farm participants showed that 77 per cent of attendees found the meetings helped them identify ways to improve their business – up from 73 per cent in 2016 and 71 per cent in 2015.

On the agronomy side, the meetings also continue to have a positive impact on levy payers, with 85 per cent of respondents saying that the Monitor Farms helped them improve their technical knowledge – up from 76 per cent in 2015.

Tim Isaac, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Head of Knowledge Exchange, said: “These are great results to see at the end of our first three years of Monitor Farms in England and Wales. With our six new Monitor Farms being launched this summer, we’re continuing to build on the success of the programme so far, making sure that they remain farmer-led, independent and locally relevant.”

Richard Astridge, who attended the Colchester Monitor Farm and farms near Chelmsford, said: “I decided to attend the Monitor Farm to improve my understanding of technical issues and find ways to improve my business performance. One thing I’ve changed since attending the meetings is to ensure that all inputs are absolutely necessary, which helps to reduce pesticide resistance risks and improves cost control. If I were to take away one key message it would be – know and understand your true costs.”

All Monitor Farms have an open day this summer, starting with Royston on 31 May. Meeting dates are listed online at cereals.ahdb.org.uk/monitorfarms

Further afield

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds is now collaborating with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) to run nine whole-farm Monitor Farms in Scotland. The project is funded by £1.25 million secured from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.

And this May at the Balmoral Show, AHDB began the search for the first Monitor Farm host in Northern Ireland.

AHDB Monitor Farms bring together groups of like-minded farmers who wish to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms. AHDB organises and facilitates Monitor Farm meetings for farmers, who own and operate the scheme – by farmers, for farmers. Monitor Farms are part of the AHDB Farm Excellence Programme.

Monitor Farm benchmarking groups use Farmbench – AHDB’s new whole-farm benchmarking tool. For more information, visit farmbench.org.uk.

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About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.