UNCONVINCED of the benefits of farming across a larger area? Velcourt farms director Richard Williamson left delegates at the NFU south-west arable conference in no doubt of its merits.

One Velcourt farm of 350ha (865 acres) had fixed costs of £450/ha (£182/acre), whereas another operating across 1600ha (3950 acres) had cut costs to just £240/ha (£97/acre), he explained.

But there are limits to the benefits of scale, he admitted. “There”s no economy that we can see over 4000 acres.”

Farmers who cannot take on more land need to co-operate with neighbours to cut costs and reduce risks, he said. “We should use the period we have at the moment to analyse what we might do in the future.

“Ultimately if we’ve got to survive at world prices with reduced support, we have to work together.

“We [Velcourt] will try to merge, and we will try to look at opportunities to increase our size,” he said. “We will also increasingly look at non-UK farming.”