Cornish farmer Ashley Jones has been selected as one of the latest to join the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Monitor Farm programme.

The idea is that local farmers gather at a host farm – Smeaton Farm – to share ideas, learn from each other and experts, and discuss the hot topics of the day.

Jones said: “I wanted to become a Monitor Farm host because I’ve found the experience at other Monitor Farms very enjoyable. I’ve learnt something new every meeting and I like to be able to get into discussions with other people in the trade and fellow farmers.

Every day is a school day – there is always something to learn. So what’s better than getting involved and having a group of farmers on my farm suggesting ideas and sharing their experiences?

About the farm

Jones farms the 190ha mixed farm in partnership with his family, with cereals, beef and lamb all contributing to the business.

97ha of the farm are arable rotated between winter wheat, winter oats, winter barley, spring barley, and maize.

All machinery is owned outright with operations done in-house. 75% of the ground is ploughed with 25% min-tilled and a power harrow disc drill combination used across the entire farm.

Jones also rears 200 head of beef – including 50 suckler cows – and 200 North Country and Suffolk mule ewes with all lamb and beef finished on-farm.

There’s plenty of diversification on the farm, from Christmas trees to a maize maze, with Jones always looking to try something new.

He said: “I’m always looking to experiment, to learn something new and to better our farm.”

A vital part of the Monitor Farm programme is the benchmarking, where a small group of farmers get together to compare their operating costs and learn where their own strengths and weaknesses are.

Jones added: “We have been doing benchmarking for four years now and we get on well with it. I find it a handy tool to know and compare our costs.”

The first meeting at Saltash Monitor Farm will be held on June 10, 2019.