Cost control vs record yields

Some farmers have achieved costs of production for grain close to £100/t this harvest, so even at today’s prices, a margin is being returned. This has generally been driven by above-average 2015 yields, but of course these cannot be guaranteed every year. Cost control is therefore just as important as trying to beat yield records.

We are now starting our programme of Monitor Farm and Arable Business Group meetings. Benchmarking between growers using AHDB’s CropBench+ is an essential tool, and the early results are showing the best producers achieving profitable arable rotations in 2015. However no one good in every department, so the meetings are a great opportunity to share experience. Do get in contact with me if you want to be involved.

The last few months have been a bit quieter for grower meetings while harvest and drilling have progressed. However, behind the scenes I have been beavering away, planning a hectic winter. I enjoyed some time out to bask in the glory of my son’s graduation from Harper and also a week’s walking in the Lake District – not much combining there!

Our Monitor Farmers have not been idle. There are new babies, spray stores and additional hectares to be farmed. Nothing stays the same for ever! I think it is a credit to the industry that even in these pressured times, the general mood is determined and positive. There is a thirst for improvement and progression and plenty of new ideas.

The new spray store built at Hendred Farm Partnership

New Spray Store At Hendred

I am excited by AHDB Cereal & Oilseeds’ new involvement in the YEN programme. All our Monitor Farms are going to put in an entry, so there is scope for a healthy secondary competition here! It will be great to see the grower groups debating the ongoing management of these crops as the season unfolds. This may involve some innovative approaches to input management to see what is possible. This all costs so a big thank you to the Monitor Farmers for their support.

At the end of the day though, ‘cash is king’ and money has to be made. Therefore we at AHDB must be mindful of the financial impact for growers of all the work we do, and growers must keep a focused commercial hat on in running and planning their businesses for the future.

For all concerned with the industry, it is full steam ahead this winter!



Taunton-based Philip joined AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds from HSBC Agriculture, where he was Senior Agriculture Manager in the South West region. Having studied agriculture at university, Philip spent seven years as a Senior Business Management Consultant with ADAS before developing his career with HSBC. He brings substantial business management experience to the Regional Team, and a detailed understanding of the complexities of the industry in the region.