Collaboration is the name of the game for AHDB’s new Monitor Farm in East Anglia.

Farmers Tom Mead and David Hurst are joining forces to host the new Duxford Monitor Farm project, bringing their shared experience together for the benefit of other local farmers.

They farm almost next door to each other at the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire border on land joined by the old Icknield Way – but their businesses are miles apart in size and structure.

Tom runs 377ha at Bleak House Farm with his father, while David is the arable manager for Law Farming, responsible for over 1,350ha.

Tom said: “We’ve got different businesses but the same challenges.”

They are both relatively young farmers with a passion for running an efficient, productive and profitable business that serves the needs of their customers – all in the difficult context of the weather, markets and the prospect of reduced farm payments.

David said: “We want to open our eyes and get ahead of the game. Times are changing quickly. I’m looking forward to learning from other businesses, both farmers and people from different parts of the supply chain.”

For Tom, time management and the customer are key.

“I’d like to look at how we decide what to focus on. Are there things we should collaborate on with others to reduce costs? How do we get better at time management? I also want to maintain a good work-life balance,” he said.

“We also need to think more about the customer, to focus on their needs and demands.”

As always, the main aim is profitability.

David said: “Of course, we want to make money from farming.”

Benchmarking is going to be a vital part of the process for both Tom and David, using AHDB’s Farmbench to analyse and compare their costs.

Teresa Meadows, AHDB knowledge exchange manager for East Anglia, said: “By having these two ambitious farmers hosting the project together, we’ve got an exciting opportunity to explore farm business resilience from two scales and viewpoints. With this critical time ahead in our industry this new joint Monitor Farm for the region will bring with it a new dynamic for the programme and a multitude of areas to explore over the three years ahead.”

AHDB Monitor Farms bring together groups of farmers who want to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms. Monitor Farms are part of AHDB’s wider Farm Excellence Platform, which works with the industry to improve performance through knowledge exchange and benchmarking with AHDB’s Farmbench.

Get involved

Local farmers can find out more about the benefits of the Duxford Monitor Farm and have their say in the topics for the three years of the programme, at the launch event on 19 June 2018.


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About The Author

John Swire - 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.