Farmer Focus: How connected am I with my customers?

I recently spent a day with an inspirational organic farmer in west Wales who is flying the flag for sustainable farming.

A real example of challenging the norm but having the evidence and business success to show for it.

Their understanding and relationship with the customer, their adaptability, and the numerous different crop types and varieties grown to order, all show they are prepared to take a calculated risk and try new things.

See also: Can arable farming and wildlife conservation work together?

All the while being commercially very aware and wholeheartedly committed to soil health and improving productivity from the soil.

It really made me look at our business and ask: how connected am I with the consumer?

How do I set a price or react? What different crops can I and do I grow, and who is the customer? Is there a penalty with scale?

As we adapt our farming practices it’s been a healthy experience to visit a few organic growers and other integrated farming systems and understand their business models. It’s been eye opening for me for all the right reasons.

Lambing success

We welcomed 15 visitors from the Bristol and London Defra offices last week. It was a great chance to connect and engage with decision makers and advisers.

We presented a real working farm with lambs being born, timber being processed, and grain being out loaded. Questions and discussion aplenty and some positive feedback received.

With the final 100 ewes to lamb, our partnership working with Tony Dawkins is a great success.

Cover crops bring great benefits to the arable rotation and wider soil health, but I’m also interested in how this helps Tony commercially going forward.

With ewes in better shape pre-lambing on the cover crops than they are on grass, good lambing percentage and cracking lambs to date, he is really pleased.

We need sheep as a tool on this land and the duel benefits are already being realised to both businesses. The sheep have put a real heartbeat back into the farm.