Although the average farmer is set to make a loss from food production this year, the top 25% are generating £369/ha (£150/acre), a survey from Deloitte claims.
The study of mostly lowland farms in the south and east of England covered 100,000ha.
In total, top-performing farms will earn a net farm income equivalent to £685/ha (£277/acre) – more than four times as much as the farm average of £153/ha (£62/acre).
The bulk of that will be generated by profits from farming activities, but the top quartile is also expected to earn £40-£50/ha (£16-£20/acre) more than the average from non-farming business.
Partner Mark Hill said: “The top performers tend to be more intensive producers with higher-value crops. It’s about economies of scale.”
However, the farms in the top 25% change from one year to the next.
“It depends on which sector or crop is doing well in that year, so it’s not always the same people.”
Mr Hill predicted the gap between the top and bottom performers would narrow in future years, as the historic element of the single farm payment was phased out.