27 February 1998

New service compares farm costs

A NEW farm business health check was launched at last weeks Farming 98 conference in Cambs.

The 4 Thought benchmarking service is a costings database using real farm figures gleaned from 24,300ha (60,000 acres) farmed by Sentry Farming from Scotland to the south coast, said director Hamish Bichan.

Farmers and landowners will be able to directly compare their units performance against national, regional or individual Sentry costings, he expl-ained. Combinable crops, sugar beet, milk and sheep are incl-uded.

Costs of production

"The scheme focuses heavily on costs of production," said Mr Bichan. It monitors yield data, variable costs and labour and machinery, or operational costs.

"The information will help managers reduce their costs, and raise performance closer to farm potential. It will help overcome the disbelief that higher levels of performance are poss-ible."

The cost of the service has yet to be fixed, says Mr Bichan.

Winter wheat production costs (excluding rent and finance) ranged from £50/t to £93/t on Sentry farms last season. Overall average was about £65/t.

That was slightly higher than in 1996. Although variable and operational costs each remained at about £250/ha (£100/acre), as they have since 1994, last harvests lower yields took their toll, says Mr Bichan.

Is your business on the right track? 4 thought can tell you, says Sentry Farmings Hamish Bichan.