A Monitor Farm for Wales

When I heard about the Monitor Farm scheme, the first thing I thought was that Wales should have a Monitor Farm. I think it’s a good idea to move things forward: as other people come with their own ideas we can debate as a group all aspects of the farm’s management and decision taking.  Our aim is always to get maximum potential out of the farm and this project will help us to take a step forward.

The main challenges for our business, disease-wise is septoria , and  weed-wise, black-grass. We’ve had black-grass on this farm for 40 years and we’re managing to contain it, but not to control it.  In general the weather we get here is quite favourable, although we do have a very narrow drilling opportunity. Once our soil gets wet, we’ve lost the window for drilling.

You’ve always got to keep an eye on costs, especially with the value of the output being so variable and unpredictable. We have to do everything as cost effective and cheaply as possible. We possibly do spend more on cultivations than we could do, but we’ve always got black-grass in the back of our minds and that’s something that we always have to strike a balance with. On costs of fungicides and other variable inputs – well that’s the reason why we took the decision a couple of years ago to join a buying group to buy inputs as cheaply as possible. And of course Stephen plays a key role as well, helping with strategy and buying decisions.



Julian Radcliffe farms around 600ha, of which 400ha are arable, in the shadow of Cardiff Airport. The farm has very shallow medium loam soils, around 20-28cm and even less in some places. Julian grows wheat, OSR, barley, oats and grass, and has started growing a small area of maize. He recently invested in a beef unit to finish 250 cattle and also has a flock of 200 breeding ewes. Julian’s aim is achieving consistent yields and maximising returns, and to do this his focus for the Monitor Farm programme will be on yields, cultivation, grass weed control and a marketing strategy to address price volatility.