Farmer Focus: It was a privilege being an AHDB monitor farm

Our very last monitor farm meeting coincided with a spell of drying weather before Storm Ciara hit us, so we lost a few attendees who were catching up on spraying, fertiliser applications and even a bit of drilling.

Despite this, we still had a hall full of people who listened and debated with our excellent speakers, Heather Wildman and Martin Williams.

The topic was “How to enjoy farming” and it really got us thinking about talking to our families, friends and work team about the balance in our lives.

See also: How to increase beneficial insects in arable crops

Teresa Meadows, our AHDB knowledge exchange manager, had the brilliant idea of inviting nurses to offer an NHS health check to anyone aged 40-74.

We had a steady stream of people popping out of the hall through the morning to visit the mobile clinic to get blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checks done.

Each brave volunteer was told their chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

The nurses said they were extremely impressed by our fitness – well above average, apparently.

Developed our business

Hew, who is obviously too young for the service, admitted that his 59-year-old mother was not ready to be written off yet.

It’s been a real privilege being Chelmsford AHDB monitor farmers for the past three years.

We’ve been challenged, for sure, but have developed our business so much under the spotlight of our fellow farmers.

We will continue benchmarking our performance against others as we strive to improve, and isn’t that challenge one of the great things about farming? We can always do better.

I have one more AHDB challenge: I’m looking forward to visiting Hereford monitor farmers Martin Williams and Russell Price for their final meeting, where they are having a farming Dragon’s Den, and guess who’s a dragon?

Thinking that I should probably look the part at least, I asked Mel – one of our horse livery clients who does nails for a living – if she could give me a gel manicure.

As she glanced at my hands, the look on her face told me it is going to be quite a challenge for her.