Number of UK farmers benchmarking doubled since 2018

Four out of five UK farmers are now actively recording their costs according to the results of AHDB’s annual Monitor Farm survey for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Of the 312 respondents to the survey this year, 80% say they are recording their costs, compared with 78.6% in 2018.

Tim Isaac, AHDB head of Arable Knowledge Exchange said: “This is great news. One of the big focuses of the Monitor Farm programme has been on measuring and managing – ensuring that improvements can be accurately assessed.”

Of the farmers who record their costs, the percentage of farmers benchmarking their businesses against others has almost doubled, from 46.6% in 2018 to 85% in 2019.

Farmers who took part in the survey also said that the Monitor Farm meetings had helped them improve their business decision-making more than in previous years (72.7% for 2019, a five-year high).

Approaches towards risk management are improving too, with nearly half (49.3%) of farmers who did the survey agreeing that the Monitor Farm project improved their risk management (compared with 47.4% in 2018).

Building resilience

“In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world, the ability to formally identify, assess and manage risks is one of the keys to increasing business resilience,” Tim said.

It’s been the case throughout the Monitor Farm programme that the scheme helps farmers to make positive changes to their businesses.

This year the reported changes included:

  • Reduced establishment costs;
  • Reduced horsepower;
  • More attention to detail;
  • Better time management;
  • Taking more care in soil management.

Adam Lewis from the Hereford Monitor Farm group, who won the random prize draw for the 2019 survey, said: “I joined the Monitor Farm group in order to participate in discussion with like-minded businesses and understand the implications of their experiences on my business.

I’ve learnt that it’s so important to embrace change and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’ve definitely improved my attention to detail – especially with regard to tyre pressures.

The AHDB Monitor Farm survey is run every year, to canvas the opinions of people who have taken part in the programme in the previous 12 months.