Somerset farmer Richard Payne will become one of AHDB’s new Monitor Farm hosts when he holds his first meeting this summer.
On July 3, he will welcome local farmers to his business at Heathfield, near Taunton, to share ideas on what works best in the South West.
Richard said: “I enjoy having people on the farm and discussing what we’re doing. It’s good to find out how our farm compares against others, and whether we’re all thinking along the same lines.
“It’s important to have a regional knowledge base [like the Monitor Farm]in the South West because we’ve got different challenges from other parts of the country – smaller fields and more hedges. We get different diseases and are under different pressures.”
The Monitor Farm programme lasts for three years, and during that time the farm will host meetings on topics chosen by local farmers, featuring local experts from AHDB and other organisations. The programme is designed to help farmers learn from each other, sharing ideas and challenges and improving their businesses.
He said: “I’ve realised that you never, ever stop learning. Farming technology is advancing all the time and it gives us the opportunity to improve what we do.”
By the end of the Monitor Farm programme, Richard would like to have a better understanding of his costs of production and to have benchmarked his farm for three years.
“I’d like to think we’re ok on variable costs, but it’s hard to say how we compare on our fixed costs,” he added. “I have a feeling because we like doing things ourselves and we’re not that big a business that our fixed costs may be quite high. We’ll find out through benchmarking!”
AHDB Knowledge Exchange manager for the South West Philip Dolbear said: “We haven’t yet had a Monitor Farm in Somerset so the next three years will be a great opportunity for the county’s arable farmers. With an emphasis on fixed costs and business management, it is incredibly timely for the industry at this time of great change.”
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 more than 30 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.