Flexibility, knowledge and success

I celebrated the end of this season’s meetings with a day out at the Military Air Tattoo at Fairford. All very exciting. There was a touching flypast of the famous Dambusters 617 Squadron, then from the sentimental Lancaster through the well recognised Tornado to the RAF’s latest wonder of technology, the F35 Lightning. Progression and succession in practice, but each generation with the same objective  – victory in battle.

The farming industry is no different. Successive generations trying to progress, doing things differently but ultimately, all with the same objective  – a viable and profitable farming business for the future. I have pondered the ‘So what?’ question for my year’s work delivering AHDB’s Farm Excellence Programme and the Monitor Farms over the past year. Quite useful timing actually because I have my annual Performance Review with the Boss tomorrow!

What do I think have been the key learning points from four Monitor Farms and some 40 odd meetings across the region?

  • Flexibility is key. No set rotations. No set cultivation choices. No set spray programmes. No set marketing strategies. Every field, even part of field, every year different according to weather , disease, pest and market pressures
  • Knowledge is detailed figures and benchmarking allow better decisions.
  • Less may be more. Optimum yields may be more profitable than trying to maximise yields. Allowing a few weeds or a bit of disease might be profitable! Maybe even consider non farming options and / or integrate Countryside Stewardship
  • Successful farmers cooperate
  • Successful farmers have a positive attitude. No matter what your view of Brexit – it will present opportunities
  • Success breeds success but needs good succession. It just needs talking about – early

For me now it’s head down planning the next year, and decluttering the laptop to make ready!



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.

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