New Monitor Farm hosts needed

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AHDB is looking for six more monitor farmers to join the network across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The scheme brings together groups of farmers who want to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of more than 30 host farms.

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

Each Monitor Farm project is hosted by a farm that is representative of other farms in the area.

AHDB organises and facilitates Monitor Farm meetings for farmers, who own and operate the scheme – by farmers, for farmers.

Tom Bradshaw, pictured, former AHDB Monitor Farm Host in Colchester, said at the recent Grain Market Outlook Conference: “One of the real highlights of the Monitor Farm programme for me is sharing information. Neighbours get together – they are not competitors any more but working together to solve challenges.”

New for this year, AHDB will be recruiting one of the six new Monitor Farms in Northern Ireland.

Tim Isaac, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Head of Knowledge Exchange, said: “As we build on the success of the programme by extending its coverage at this crucial time, we are keen to reach out to growers across all parts of the UK, now including Northern Ireland. We certainly picked up a lot of enthusiasm at the Balmoral Show earlier this year, so I am confident we will be able to appoint a highly suitable farm for us to launch next summer.”

Judith Stafford, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for Northern England and Northern Ireland, said: “Open-minded farmers looking to further their business are particularly well-suited to being a monitor farmer. We find that the more the host and the rest of the group are willing to put into the project, the more everybody benefits.

“The Monitor Farm and visiting farmers will also be able to learn from independent, non-commercial experts discussing subjects that are of local relevance and which have been identified as priorities by the farmer group.”

Interviews will be held in January and February 2018, with the successful farm being announced in March 2018.

AHDB currently runs 14 arable-focused Monitor Farm in England, and three in Scotland under a joint scheme with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). Six more farms will be joining the programme next spring.

Each Monitor Farm project runs for three years, with between four and six meetings held a year.

One of the particular highpoints for those in the Monitor Farm network – hosts and their steering groups – is the annual Monitor Farm conference, held in November.

Richard Meredith, Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “The conference is the one time in the year when all the Monitor Farm hosts get together and can share their ideas from around the country. It’s an event where the excitement and enthusiasm is tangible, and shows the real determination in the industry to be the best they can be.”

Other opportunities for Monitor Farm hosts include study tours to other parts of the country, to visit farms abroad and to have world-class experts speaking at meetings on the farm.

Farmers interested in hosting a Monitor Farm should contact their Knowledge Exchange Manager by 31 December 2017:

North England & Northern Ireland: Judith Stafford, judith.stafford@ahdb.org.uk, 07981 556623

East Midlands: Harry Henderson, harry.henderson@ahdb.org.uk, 07964 974465

West England & Wales: Richard Meredith, richard.meredith@ahdb.org.uk, 07717 493015

East Anglia: Teresa Meadows, teresa.meadows@ahdb.org.uk, 07387 015465

South East: Paul Hill, paul.hill@ahdb.org.uk, 07964 243699

South West: Philip Dolbear, philip.dolbear@ahdb.org.uk, 07964255614

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