Farmer Richard Reed is one of the latest to join a nationwide scheme that aims to help farms stay successful despite current challenging circumstances.
Richard, from Berrington Law, near Berwick, has joined the Monitor Farm scheme, run by HGCA, the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
Monitor Farms are normal commercial farms, representative of enterprises and conditions in their area, where the host farmer is prepared to allow neighbouring farms access to the farm and to their decision-making process.
Monitor Farms are a proven, effective method of knowledge transfer with a farmer-led, farmer-centred and farmer-driven agenda.
Richard farms a mix of owned and contract-farmed land totalling 1170ha.
He grows winter wheat for biscuits or distilling, oilseed rape, winter barley for malt, feed, and seed, spring barley, and tried 3ha spring beans in 2014.
He said: “The reason I wanted to become a Monitor Farm is that I hope it will challenge what we are doing and how we do it.
“I don’t believe we have a perfect set-up at present and I am sure there is room for improvement within our business in a number of areas. I have also spoken to a Monitor farmer on the Scottish side of the border who spoke highly about his experience.
“Some of the issues which I hope can be discussed will be improving soil structure and condition, work force succession – our three staff are in their late fifties or early sixties – grain marketing, and machinery and establishment costs.”
As well as the team of staff, the farm has a couple of casual helpers hired at harvest. They run older machinery, mostly around 15 years old, but have also adopted precision farming by installing GPS and apply P, K and N variably.
Grain drying is all done on-farm using a biomass heat source on a floor system which was installed in 2013.
This year Richard installed a weighbridge, which he says has already brought benefits to the business.
HGCA regional manager Harry Henderson said: “Richard’s machinery policy is perfectly normal in other parts of the world, but why not in Europe? We will help him cost out his machinery and see if we are all missing a trick.”
HGCA now has an active network of 20 Monitor Farms across the UK, which form part of the organisation’s business efficiency programme.
The launch event at Berrington Law will be held on November 18. To attend, contact Harry at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 07964 974465.