Co-operation and a leap of faith

I’ve always been someone who questions things. I look at things from the outside in, and one of my mottos for work on the farm is – the way we’ve always done things isn’t always best. The beauty of the Monitor Farm programme is that everyone is doing things differently, and we can all learn from each other.

At our launch event in November I want to get an understanding of what other farmers are doing and what they’re interested in learning. We’ll be using a technique called Turning Point Response – everyone gets a wireless clicker and can vote in real time on the issues being discussed.

Simply put, my aim for this programme is to drive forward the businesses of all those who want to get involved. By working together as a unit of similar minded farmers, the group can achieve a lot more than one person alone could. I see farm co-operation as something farmers will have to do in the future, even though it can be a bit of a leap of faith.

We’ve been farming a long, 12-year rotation, since the 1970s and we’ve seen this has an amazing impact on our yields. After two years of herbage grass, our soil organic matter is fantastic, and the first winter wheat after grass usually yields around 12t/ha.



Brian and his cousin Patrick run E.J. Barker & Sons, a family farm partnership and contracting business in Suffolk dating back to 1957. The 667ha arable farm business is farmed on 12 - and nine-year rotations, incorporating winter wheat for feed, spring barley, herbage grass seed, oilseed rape and a break crop of beans, linseed or peas. Environmental consideration is crucial to the running of the business, and remains a key factor in all decision-making on farm.