NEARLY HALF of the UK's farmers are not confident about their future, with price volatility identified as their biggest challenge.

According to newly published research from Hectare Agritech, nearly half of UK farmers (46%) do not think their business is profitable and secure for the future, and eight out of ten (80%) are worried about the difficulties on the horizon.

Prices and land availability were listed as the two biggest and most common barriers to profitability – half of farmers (52%) stated that price fluctuations for products sold was the current biggest limitation to business success, while a similar number (49%) saw ongoing price volatility as their biggest future limitation too. A third of farmers also viewed land availability as a current (34%) and future (30%) challenge.

Hectare Agritech, which runs 'digital marketplaces' aimed at UK farmers, reached these conclusions based on a sample of 342 farmers that replied to its survey. Of more specific pertinence to its business, the results suggested that only a third of farmers felt that there was always a competitive market for their produce, with plenty of buyers giving them a choice of prices and terms.

Hectare chief executive Doug Bairner said: “The route to success and profitability in farming is getting harder. Margins are getting tighter, and with increasing operating costs, the agricultural industry needs to find ways to make itself more efficient and competitive. Adopting technology is seen as a lifeline for the majority of the farmers we spoke to, and for those who do trial new technologies – both within the output and input side of their business – they’re reaping the benefits.

"More often than not, adopting new technological solutions can be quick and simple to use, and it can help farmers and agricultural businesses to save time, money and resources. This is even more important when it comes to buying and selling livestock or grain," said Mr Bairner.

"Online marketplaces provide transparency, traceability, and efficiency," he added. "For farmers this means they become price makers rather than price takers, and the businesses buying from them gain significant efficiency benefits.”