New Sussex Monitor Farm

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Farmers in West Sussex will be able to reap the benefits of their shared knowledge and experience as the AHDB Monitor Farm programme comes to the county.

Hosted by Mark Chandler at Moor Farm in Petworth, the farmer-led and farmer-driven Monitor Farm gives farmers the opportunity to learn from each other and from experts in an independent, non-commercial environment.

Mark said: “We wanted to host a Monitor Farm to take a look at our business. To try and give ourselves a nudge to do what we do better and pay more attention to detail. It’s easy to get lost in the process and overlook details.”

The Monitor Farm project will bring likeminded people together to share problems and challenges and find solutions.

During the three years of the programme Mark would particularly like to look at nutrient management, black-grass control, cultivations and rotations and labour and machinery.

He said: “One of our biggest challenges is our justification of labour and machinery investment. We have three full-time staff who are absolutely key to the success of our business: they are extremely skilled and dedicated. Without them there’s no business, so we have to make sure we can match that asset and the machinery we invest in on the acres available to us.”

When it comes to black-grass control, Mark is concerned about the loss of chemistry and would like to put more science behind the decisions he makes, considering cultural and rotational control.

“We’re very conscious about our soil health and so haven’t ploughed for 20 years. But is this resulting in a grass-weed problem? If we have to go back to ploughing it will have a huge effect on our cost of production.

“The Monitor Farm programme and benchmarking with Farmbench will help us to put a figure on the value of the problem. We need to have discussions and budgets to prevent problems in the future.”

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 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 with AHDB’s Farmbench.

The launch event for the new Monitor Farm will take place on 21 June 2018. For more information or to attend the meeting, contact Paul Hill, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, on paul.hill@ahdb.org.uk or 07964 243699.

Peter Chapman, whose farm South Redbog in Aberdeenshire was the first AgriScot Scottish Arable Farm of the Year, is urging arable farmers across Scotland to seriously consider putting their own

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