FAQs | Farmbench
Frequently Asked Questions
Farmbench is an easy to use online tool for farmers and growers that helps you to identify where strengths and weaknesses lie. By anonymously comparing your business to farms with similar enterprises, you can make evidence-based decisions to improve performance and profitability. This will ensure that your business is well placed to manage many of the challenges facing the sector, such as price volatility, Brexit, and economic uncertainty, putting you on the best possible footing for the future.
Farmbench covers beef, lamb, dairy, combinable crop, potato and sugar beet enterprises.
Put simply, benchmarking is comparing your business with other similar businesses to see how you perform.
Farmbench allows you to compare agreed performance indicators with neighbouring, local or national farmers. This will help you to identify any areas of weakness and take steps to put them right. Similarly, it will show you areas where your business outperforms your peers. You will also be invited to take part in facilitated discussions, which allow you to learn from each other and make evidence-based decisions to improve individual profitability. The ultimate aim of Farmbench is to provide you with a better understanding of your own business and put you in control of your future.
Farmbench is the market-leading cost analysis and comparison tool. By 2023, AHDB plan to have over 20,000 farmers using it, making it not only the fastest growing, but also the most accurate benchmarking tool available. Funded by the AHDB levy, Farmbench is uniquely placed to provide the service and support for free.
Signing up to Farmbench couldn’t be simpler. Once you have followed a straightforward registration process, all you need to do is enter your physical and financial data relating to one production cycle. The data can then be submitted to AHDB for checking and validating if required, before being included in the anonymised benchmarks. Once complete, your report will be ready to access at any time via the Farmbench dashboard.
We are aware that the majority of farmers and growers don’t have time to be stuck in an office. That is why we have designed the most intuitive programme that is simple and easy to use. The length of time inputting the data takes varies depending on the number and size of enterprises within each farm business. However, many farmers find that they already have a large proportion of this data to hand and therefore the process is far shorter than initially expected.
Alternatively, you can choose to give access to your consultant or advisor via the dashboard and they can input the data on your behalf.
Most farmers and growers track their costs and instinctively understand the strength of their business year on year. But with so much uncertainty in the industry, pinpointing where you perform well and where you could improve is critical when managing future challenges. Farmbench allows you identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual enterprise, by calculating costs of production and net margins for each. This information will allow you to make evidence based choices about each enterprise, to improve your overall business performance.
Many farmers and growers are already benchmarking through informal arrangements, such as a shared chat group. This is often local, however, and so Farmbench offers you the chance to do this on a larger scale and therefore get more accurate results. In addition, most alternative methods of benchmarking only look at gross margin, rather than taking into account fixed costs, such as labour, machinery and property costs etc.
We know that each farm is different, which is why we have chosen performance indicators that will give you the most useful and accurate indicators of your strengths and weaknesses as a business. Farmbench also requires all users to input data using the same rules, making it easier to make accurate comparisons across businesses. This enables consistency and produces robust and reliable comparisons between different production systems, across different enterprises.
All data that is submitted to Farmbench for approval is checked and validated by AHDB before being included in the anonymised benchmarks.
Farmbench records and measures performance indicators which fall into one of three categories:
- Financial – the sales of crops or livestock, your business costs and margins.
- Physical – such as marketable yield, or daily live-weight gain.
- Ranking – how do you compare against group regional, national and international averages?
By signing up to Farmbench and inputting your data, you will be able to access live reports at any time via your personal account on the website, enabling you to reliably compare your farm’s performance to similar businesses completely anonymously. Every single cost can be allocated so you can drill down into your unit cost of production to help you budget and track performance. In addition, once your farm is registered you will be invited to take part in facilitated discussions, where you can review industry data as a group. These insights will enable you to identify and evaluate best practice, making informed decisions to improve your bottom line.
Farmbench is funded by the AHDB levy so there is no additional cost. Once you have registered, you will also be invited to facilitated group discussions for no extra charge.
Yes, Farmbench is designed to help businesses of all sizes.
AHDB recognises the importance of confidentiality and follows stringent data protection rules. When you upload your data to Farmbench, you will retain ownership of the data and will be able to access and manage it through secure passwords. Once uploaded to the site, all data becomes anonymous and you will need to give permission for further use. Your personal data will never be shared and group reports exclude sensitive areas such as rent and finance/borrowings. Data is also validated by AHDB before being included in comparative aggregated benchmarks.
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You can access the data in three ways:
- Crucially, all Farmbench users are able to access reports at any time using the website Reports can be generated according to different criteria that a user selects e.g. £ per hectare, £ per kg/tonne, £ per head.
- As a member of a discussion or monitor farm group, you can receive group reports and can take part in feedback meetings
- The AHDB national sector reports will continue to be published annually which include aggregated Farmbench data
Farmbench is an easy to use, confidential and fully validated tool, which helps you to identify your business strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your costings will allow you to reflect and fine tune, to ensure you can make informed decisions for your future as a sustainable business. These will help you to weather any uncertainty, grow your business and inform crucial decisions such as succession planning for all members of your farming business.
The ultimate aim of Farmbench is to put you in control of your future.