Adding value to every acre and collaboration were key areas for farmers looking to future-proof their businesses ahead of the major changes coming down the track.
Speaking at the Cereals Live ’New era, new challenges, new opportunities’ webinar, farmers were looking at everything from benchmarking to business partnerships to improve their performance.
Oscar Harding, Duchess Farms, Chelmsford, was looking to do one thing differently every harvest and add value to every acre.
He calculated how much would potentially be made from feed wheat per acre to compare whether a new approach was worth investing in.
“Anything we do that is not that, needs to be better than that benchmark,” he said.
Mr Harding started with rapeseed processing which was a ‘simple process’ with low start-up costs.
Mr Harding’s farm had been growing niche crops, such as heritage varieties for baking, but he added it was also about sharing risks with the end markets.
Kingsclere Estates estate manager Tim May had looked for alternative approaches to give him time to spend with his children in August.
“I looked to crops I can grow so I do not have to be doing too much in August. It is quite revolutionary in arable,” he said.
The Hampshire farming business included a wide range of enterprises in addition to its traditional crops from poultry to growing quinoa.
The estate was using partnerships to reduce its risk by running a mixed enterprise rather than a solely arable farm, as well as helping new entrants to farm.
“We try and use partnerships instead of employees,” he said.
“Some of those partners are at a really early idea or sometimes they have an established business and just need a bit of extra land. Some of the businesses are early research and development.”
Joint ventures were also an option for some farmers looking to collaborate with others, but it was important to have a formal agreement in place according to Aylesbury-based farmer Anthony Pearce.
This would ideally set out everything from the length of the agreement terms to harvest sequences and tax scenarios.
Mr Pearce highlighted the strengths of a joint venture included sharing costs such as machinery or labour, utilise each other’s experiences and reduce capital investments.