6 newcomers join arable Monitor Farms network

Six new growers from across England will join the Monitor Farm network this summer, as the programme shifts into its second phase with a backdrop of Brexit-induced uncertainty for agriculture.

Growers who originally joined the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds scheme when it started in 2014 are reaching the end of their three-year stint, prompting the organisation to recruit new farms in Essex, Herefordshire, Wiltshire, North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Hampshire.

The Monitor Farm project aims to bring together like-minded farmers who want to develop or expand their business through local group discussion, benchmarking and trialling new practices and technologies.

The six new AHDB Monitor Farms:

  • Chelmsford: Christy and Hew Willett
  • Saltburn: John Aynsley
  • Malmesbury: Roger Wilson
  • Brigg: Colin Chappell
  • Hereford: Russell Price and Martin Williams
  • Basingstoke: Hugh Crosbie Dawson

See also: 5 Monitor Farmers share their cost saving tips

Tim Issac, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds head of knowledge exchange, says the Monitor Farm network is of real value to the farming industry, with this work becoming even more important as farming prepares for the challenges of Brexit.

“We’ve learned a lot from the first three years of the Monitor Farm programme in England and Wales,” he said.

“The scheme has exceeded all expectations in its positive impact on the industry, with a wide spectrum of participants getting involved, sharing and taking improvements back to their own businesses.”

Sustained pressure on farmers to cut costs will make benchmarking a key part of the scheme, helping growers to measure and manage their costs and margins as they seek to build more resilient enterprises.

Adrian Joynt, farm manager at the Apley Estate and host of the Bridgnorth Monitor Farm, says benchmarking has thrown up a few surprises for him and his business.

“Benchmarking has helped me to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes they’re not where you think they are. We’ve certainly learned a lot, especially from the discussions within our group.”

Mapped: AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Monitor Farms

The new groups will use AHDB’s Farmbench programme, which for the first time brings together cereals, oilseeds, beef, lamb and potato enterprises into one piece of software.

It allows farms to benchmark multiple enterprises on one system, saving time and encouraging a whole-farm approach.

For more information on the six new farms and how you can get involved, visit the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds website.

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