A farming business situated on the North Cornwall-Devon border has been successful in applying to be one of the new Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) monitor farms.

Three other beef and lamb farms from across England have joined Rob and Liz Priest, of Kingsford Farm in Holsworthy and Scadghill Farm in Bude, in the prestigious Farm Excellence programme.

All of the successful applicants are striving for success in their farm businesses whilst facing various challenges in the current climate.

The husband and wife duo farm in partnership across the 290 ac of their Devonshire home farm and 220 ac over the border in Cornwall.

Having farmed organically for 15 years at home, Rob and Liz are now in the process of organic conversion of the farm in Cornwall, where the farm had previously been conventionally managed before they purchased it in autumn 2021.

A suckler herd of 80 stabiliser cows share the farm with 630 ewes; made up of 130 mule crossbreds, 270 Highlanders and 230 Aberfields.

The other three monitor farms include:
• Harry Sordy, Northumberland - 240 suckler cows, 3000 ewes and arable;
• Ian Farrant, Herefordshire - 750 dairy beef finishers and arable;
• David Cross, Norfolk – 900 ewes and arable.

Samantha Charlton, head of beef and lamb knowledge exchange at AHDB, said: “We’re pleased to welcome our new farms on board.

"We had a large number of applicants, and it was really difficult to choose only four to participate in the four-year project.

“We began the project in 2017 and over the past five years we’ve worked with 16 Strategic Farms who have all had success in implementing best practice, resulting in improved financial performance.

"As part of the programme, we also engaged directly with thousands of levy payers through the on-farm events and online webinars.”

'We are driven by the facts and figures'

Liz and Rob commented: “We are driven by the facts and figures, and we like to be honest and open with people.

We’re quite happy to share our information – good and bad.

"We would like to increase profitability within the farm business, be better at selecting stock either for sale or as breeding replacements and continue to improve our pastures.

"As we take on our new farm, we’re open to new ideas and adapting our approach to improve the percentage of lambs and calves that we can rear and finish.”

Leah Shanks, knowledge exchange manager, added: “We are looking forward to welcoming attendees to Rob and Liz’s launch event on February 15 at Scadghill Farm.

"This is an open event so please register and come along, it will be a great opportunity to learn all about their farm business.

"We will focus on key areas including environmental matters, breeding, health, grassland management and financial performance.

"With Rob and Liz, we are especially excited to explore the opportunities that taking on a new farm presents.”