Wanted: AHDB seeks 7 new Monitor Farms for England

AHDB is on the hunt for seven more farm businesses to host the next phase of its Cereals & Oilseeds Monitor Farm programme.

The new monitor farms will take a ‘whole-farm’ approach to the project. Similar to the scheme run by AHDB and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the farms will bring all aspects of their businesses to the discussion table.

Richard Meredith, AHDB knowledge exchange manager, said: “Taking a whole-farm perspective, while maintaining our arable focus, will help farmers make real developments in their business management practices, which should result in improved productivity, competitiveness and environmental management.

Looking at the whole farm and addressing the complex interactions between enterprises will help to evolve the Monitor Farm programme to meet the changing needs of the industry even better.

The programme will also help farmers to make sure that every enterprise in the business can stand on its own two feet.

“We need to help farmers get away from a situation where one enterprise is propping another up,” Richard added.

Pembrokeshire farmer Tom Rees volunteered to host his own Monitor Farm project after attending AHDB’s Cardiff Monitor Farm in 2018 to make sure the good work continued.

He said: “It was a brilliant programme and it gave me a lot of confidence in making decisions in my own business.”

With Brexit on the horizon, there are many changes ahead for the industry, not least the increased focus on environmental management.

Richard said: “We know change is coming and that farmers need to innovate to thrive. The Monitor Farm programme can help UK farmers strengthen their businesses.

“Farmers are in this together, so it’s of paramount importance to face the challenges together too.”

The new monitor farmers and their local groups will be scrutinising every aspect of their businesses with the support of AHDB and guidance from industry experts over the next three years, including:

  • Soil health;
  • Machinery policy;
  • Comparing costs with their peers of different shapes and sizes;
  • Trying out new ideas on their farms.

Herefordshire farmer Mark Wood hosted a Monitor Farm from 2014-2017. He said: “The Monitor Farm programme enabled me to really analyse my business, to find out what the issues are [and] how to solve them.”

AHDB is looking for primarily cereals farms, but which also ideally have a mixture of other enterprises such as potatoes, beef or lamb, dairy or field vegetables.

The main focus is on the areas listed below, however, any interested farmers are encouraged to apply:

  • East Anglia: Norfolk or Suffolk;
  • South East: Kent;
  • South West: Devon;
  • North East: Yorkshire or Northumberland;
  • North West: Cumbria, Lancashire or Cheshire;
  • West: Shropshire;
  • East Midlands: Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, South Lincolnshire or Derbyshire.

Farmers interested in hosting a project should apply online or contact their local AHDB knowledge exchange manager.