The cereals and oilseeds branch of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is set to launch three new monitor farms in the coming weeks.

AHDB’s monitor farms each undertake a three-year programme and, during this time, aim to offer support and guidance to growers looking to improve their businesses and learn from others.

These news farms in Yorkshire, Norwich and Nottinghamshire will join the team of 13 existing AHDB cereals and oilseeds monitor farms in hosting regular open meetings

The goal of these meetings is to share best practices from industry experts and share their knowledge on key topics, such as soil health, grain markets and farming policy.

The three farms will be hosting open days throughout the summer, the dates and locations of which are below:

  • Beverley Monitor Farm, located on Hall Farm, Beverley, East Yorkshire, will host an open day on May 31, 2023;
  • Norwich Monitor Farm, located on Crown Point Estate, Norfolk, Norwich, will host an open day on June 23, 2023
  • Bingham Monitor Farm, located on Manor Farm, Bingham, Nottinghamshire, will host an open day on July 5, 2023

The free-to-attend farms and their open days can be registered for via the AHDB events website.

AHDB head of engagement for cereals and oilseeds, Ana Reynolds, said: “We’re really excited to be launching three new monitor farms to our established programme.

Ana Reynolds

“At the heart of the monitor farm programme is the demonstration of trials of new cropping or techniques in ‘real farm’ situations.

“While we encourage attendance at all monitor farm open days, the launch of new farms is a great time to get involved in the programme, influence the discussions and watch progress first hand.”

Reynolds said that, due to the “pace of change” that the agricultural sector is experiencing, there has “never been a better time to get involved” with AHDB’s monitor farms.

“With each farm hosting regular open meetings across the length and breadth of the UK, there’s a diverse array of expertise, farm types and systems represented.

“There really is something for everyone, and as a free programme centred on peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, the discussion and independent results can help shape the future of your farm, as part of the wider industry.”

Three new farms

The Beverley Monitor Farm will be hosted by farm manager Harry Huddart on the 2,000ha arable rotation at Hall Farm.

The land comprises winter wheat and barley, oilseed rape (OSR), spring barley and beans, peas, forage maize and potatoes.

“Hosting an AHDB Monitor Farm will not only allow us to share what we’re doing on-farm with other like-minded people, but we’re also hoping to take away new ideas that may help us improve” Huddart said.

“I believe the farm is set up in a way that we’ve enough flexibility to trial and explore new practices for the benefit of our farm as well as the wider farming community.”

The Norwich Monitor Farm, hosted by arm manager Michael Balls, will focus on maintaining financial margins by improving current techniques and incorporating new practices on-farm.

The 1,200ha arable operation, comprising winter wheat and barley, OSR, spring oats, triticale, peas, potatoes, maize, and mint, along with integrating livestock, also includes new ventures like pick-your-own sunflowers, pumpkins, and sweetcorn.

“This is an exciting but challenging time for agriculture. I’m always keen to learn how other farmers approach things and trial elements in our own farming system,” Balls said.

“Equally, I’m an open book and would like to share my experience of what’s worked and not worked so well, with others.”

Bingham Monitor Farm in Nottinghamshire is to be led by farm director Joe Fisher.

During his time in the monitor farm programme, Fisher aims to build a more resilient and diverse farm enterprise, while striving to reduce environmental impact.

The 560ha site comprises an arable rotation of winter wheat, oilseed rape, beans, quinoa, and maize.

“Having been regularly involved with my local monitor farm meetings, I’ve seen the group evolve and I value all the learnings we take from it,” Fisher said.

“I’m looking forward to hosting over the next few years and taking others on our journey in trying to reduce inputs and maintain margins, while aiming to meet environmental targets and working towards achieving net zero.”