Frontier’s MyFarm Analytics can support productivity

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Chris Papworth, farm manager of Little Staughton Farms in Bedfordshire, has been using Frontier’s MyFarm Analytics (powered by YAGRO) together with advice from Frontier agronomist, Ed Schofield, to benchmark his farm’s performance year-on-year and maximise productivity.

“I began using MyFarm Analytics 18 months ago after Ed suggested it could help with on-farm budgeting,” explained Mr Papworth. “After seeing a demonstration, I knew it would be a useful resource, particularly for monitoring expenditure, budgeting and price comparisons. I now use the budgeting tool before the new season starts to help plan cropping based on the current markets.”

MyFarm Analytics helps growers to benchmark crop production costs so they can assess the data in the context of their own business. The service, coupled with the experience of Frontier’s advisors, can help growers drill down into the costs associated with overall rotational planning, variety selection, soil husbandry, cultivations, weed control and wider crop inputs.

Mr Papworth uses the tool to calculate his gross margin and review cropping decisions. As the season progresses, he is able to modify costs, update budgets and adjust his management strategy accordingly.

Ed Schofield

Mr Schofield added that at this time of year, it’s really useful to sit down and review this data: “This year the information will help to justify the crop protection strategy in a high-pressure season. It is also a great tool for budgeting. Chris is a very busy man and this system really works for him. Plus, because he owns his data, nothing is done without his permission.

“Now more than ever, growers need to use all the management data and tools at their disposal to help ensure their business is operating in a sustainable way.”

Mr Schofield recommended that farmers have a data strategy, recording what they can as accurately as possible. Tools such as MyFarm Analytics offer a secure data repository for all areas and activities linked to crop production. This can include collating information such as invoices and spray records, as well as combine yield monitors to support appropriate maintenance and calibration.

MyFarm Analytics can incorporate farm data that’s been captured in other applications which sit alongside it in MyFarm too, such as crop production information recorded in third-party farm management software like Greenlight Grower Management. Importantly, MyFarm Analytics is also helping Mr Papworth manage his data without impacting his wider workload. As a busy farm manager, he has limited time in the office and can’t spend hours inputting information into a spreadsheet. He said: “The ease of use and the way data is incorporated means that isn’t an issue. There is a lot of detail that I can delve into, but even if I have limited time the system is so easy to use that I can quickly find the insights and data that I want.”

With the reduction in basic payments and more Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) options coming forward, Mr Papworth and Mr Schofield both believe that on-farm efficiency will be more important than ever; working smarter and more sustainably while maintaining yields.

“MyFarm Analytics includes a feature which lets me compare data on a field-by-field basis,” explains Mr Papworth. “Like most farms we have some fields which ‘do okay’ every year, but which never match the average performance of the farm. The tool allows us to review their true performance so we can focus land management where we will get the biggest return. We can then look at different approaches for those challenging areas, such as putting them into Countryside Stewardship.”

Mr Schofield added: “Farming is not a simple system. Having that year-on-year comparison is therefore useful, as is being able to compare costs and performance with others.”

The system includes data on the range of prices paid and received across the industry, but it also allows more detailed benchmarking, with box plot ranges to understand the spread and skew across a variety of factors. Another feature provides hosting of private ‘invite and accept’ groups in order to compare and analyse down to a granular level with those growers know and trust.

“For the last four years I’ve been part of the AHDB’s Farmbench, and I now get some of the data for that from MyFarm Analytics. I hope, going forward, MyFarm Analytics will become my single source of data for the farm.”

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