A first for Northern Ireland

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Downpatrick farmer Richard Orr is to be the first AHDB Monitor Farm host in Northern Ireland.

Richard runs Meadow Farm with his father, growing winter wheat and spring and winter barley, as well as potatoes, turnips and grass.

AHDB Monitor Farms bring together groups of farmers who want to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms.

Richard said: “I wanted be a monitor farmer to learn and to improve my business; to be questioned on my decisions by like-minded farmers. I also want to help other farmers in Northern Ireland learn and develop through knowledge exchange and frank discussion.”

He is particularly excited to be involved in bringing the Monitor Farm programme to Northern Ireland.

“It’s good to be involved in the work rather than being on the outside and looking in at everything going on in the rest of the UK.”

Farmers coming along to the Monitor Farm meetings hosted by Richard will be able to discuss solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture such as how to manage and improve soil structure without damaging it when the weather is bad and how to thrive in the face of Brexit.

Richard said: “The soil quality and its nutritional value is the most important asset we have and for years its importance has been overlooked.”

To survive the coming political changes, Richard said the priority is to become as efficient as possible in every aspect of farm businesses.

Richard has been benchmarking his business for ten years with CAFRE and will continue benchmarking with the Monitor Farm group and AHDB’s Farmbench.

His aim is to withstand sudden volatility in the market.

“I’d like to improve my figures through benchmarking and improving soil value to aid the growth, expansion and stability of the business going forward,” Richard said.

“If I can challenge the local farmers to think outside the box and question their own business model and how they could improve that would be a success.”

The launch event will be held on 19 June 2018 and anyone interested in the Monitor Farm is welcome to attend.

For more information contact Judith Stafford, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for Northern Ireland, on judith.stafford@ahdb.org.uk or 07891 556623.

Monitor Farms are part of AHDB’s wider Farm Excellence Platform, which works with the industry to improve performance through knowledge exchange and benchmarking with AHDB’s Farmbench.

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