Richard OrrRichard Orr farms at Meadow Farm in Downpatrick © AHDB

Arable farmers in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the AHDB’s Monitor Farm initiative after it announced the first ever Irish farmer among the six new additions.

The AHDB initiative is a key part of its knowledge transfer programme and the latest batch of farmers, also covering Wales and Southern England, have a total arable area of over 4,000 ha.

Richard Orr, who farms with his father at Meadow Farm, in Downpatrick, will be Northern Ireland’s first representative.

See also: How a US arable farmer doubled his soil organic matter

He manages 75ha of arable cropping, which includes winter wheat, plus both spring and winter barley, with the rotation allowing potatoes, turnips and grass to be planted.

“I wanted to be a monitor farmer to learn and to improve my business and to be questioned on my decisions by like-minded farmers,” said Mr Orr.

One particular issue he hopes to explore with farmers at the open meetings is how to manage and improve soil structure without damaging it when the weather is bad.

“The soil quality and its nutritional value is the most important asset we have and for years its importance has been overlooked.”

This latest batch brings the total number of monitor farms to 29. For more information on the monitor farm programme and the latest additions to the scheme, visit the AHDB’s website.

The new monitor farms

  • Northern Ireland: Richard Orr, Meadow Farm
  • Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire: Joint hosts David Hurst and Tom Mead, Law Farming and Bleak House Farm
  • Northamptonshire: Rick Davies, MTH Davies
  • Pembrokeshire: Tom Rees, Dudwell Farm, Pembrokeshire
  • West Sussex: Mark Chandler, G Chandler Farming
  • Somerset: Richard Payne, Manor Farm