ALMOST 80% of farmers who attended Monitor Farm meetings believe they have helped improve their business according to those who completed the 2018 survey, against 76.7% in 2017.

The Monitor Farm initiative, created by levy-board AHDB, brings 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.

The report revealed that 95% of the farmers who attended such meetings said it was a good use of their time, with 64% believing they improved business decision making. In addition, 89% valued the opportunity to share experience and openly discuss issues in a non-commercial environment, with 83.1% claiming the project improved their technical knowledge.

Those surveyed said they value the Monitor Farm programme having an independent, locally relevant, farmer-led agenda.

In contrast to previous years, Monitor Farm meetings are attracting younger farmers. In the survey, those with 10 or fewer years of farming experience made up 19% of respondents to the survey, compared with an average 9% over the last three years.

However, improvement is still needed with the next area of improvement to be centred around benchmarking, according to Tim Isaac, AHDB head of arable knowledge exchange. "We know from studies in other countries that it’s a really valuable exercise in improving productivity.

“But, according to this survey, only about half of our Monitor Farm attendees are benchmarking, so the other half are missing out on the opportunity to identify improvements to their business.”