Diss Monitor Farm

Richard Ling
East Anglia
Farm sectors:
Cereals & Oilseeds
View on Google Maps

About Diss Monitor Farm

  • The Rookery Farm has been a monitor farm since May 2019.
  • Arable rotation includes wheat, oilseed rape and winter barley for feed or spring malting barley.
  • The farm also has a beef finishing unit with Morrisons, aiming to finish 150 British Blues per year.
  • Soil types range from sandy loam to heavy clay loams.

Richard Ling farms 400ha on various soil types ranging from sandy loam to heavy clay loam. His 380ha arable rotation includes wheat, oilseed rape and winter barley for feed or spring malting barley. The farm also has a beef finishing unit for Morrisons, aiming to finish 150 British Blues per year, as well as business and residential lets and a self-storage business.

With good infrastructure and machinery, The Rookery Farm is a diversified business and Richard has a good understanding of his operational costs. Prior to becoming a monitor farm back in 2019, the soil health of each field was already being evaluated on a regular basis in order to select the best cultivation method for each season. Through being a monitor farmer, Richard hopes to build on forward-thinking practices like these and grow a resilient and profitable farming enterprise.

Key focuses for Richard on becoming a monitor farmer were managing his varied soil types, employing precision farming to best effect and optimising manure and nutrient inputs. The full initial analysis of Rookery Farm, along with complete farm specification, can be found in the Diss Monitor Farm Launch Meeting Report | AHDB.

Diss Monitor Farm meetings & reports

Diss Monitor Farm summer meeting – 15 June 2021

In 2021, Richard had several trials underway at his farm, including:

  • Oilseed Rape Companion Cropping – investigating whether companion crops can give OSR the edge over CSFB. Results from this trial can be found in this recently published article.
  • Nitrogen Use Efficiency Try-out – putting nitrification inhibitor ‘AdvaNShield’ to the test in an attempt to boost yield, decrease nitrate leaching and reduce to need for nitrogen application.
  • Disease Forecasting – Trialling a new disease-forecasting module on his weather station, hoping the data produced can lead to more informed spraying choices.
  • Winter Wheat Establishment – running two establishment systems of different cost and variety.

Hear Richard talk about his most recent trials in the Diss Monitor Farm Summer Meeting 2021 video and find the full details of each trial in the Diss Monitor Farm Summer Meeting Report.


Rotation planning – 28 January 2021

Marion Self of Prime Agriculture joined Richard and discussed the various aspects of creating a profitable and sustainable crop rotation. Richard shared his experience growing, processing and selling niche crops such as lupins and millets.

Link: Diss Monitor Farm Meeting: Rotation Planning | AHDB


Diss Monitor Farm Christmas update – 23 December 2020

In this brief Christmas Update Video, Richard talked through how his ‘Winter Barley Try-out’ is progressing. This trial is in partnership with Syngenta and involves testing three different cultivation procedures with two winter barley varieties.


East Anglia Monitor Farms summer meeting – 22 June 2020

In this summer meeting, Richard reported how the first year as a monitor farm has gone and details some changes being implemented on the farm. Updates included:

  • Rolling wheat fields in an attempt to promote tillering on lighter soils.
  • Rejigging machinery in order to drill winter beans more efficiently.
  • Placing tree stumps in flower margins to attract more beneficials.
  • The importance of establishment timings when growing spring barley.

This meeting was followed by a harvest update video in October and a live event in November of that year in which Richard revealed his yields and the outcome of the changes he’s made.


Boosting beneficials and IPM – 11 February 2020   

John Holland (GWCT) and Andy Barr (A & A Barr Farms) gave talks about how attracting beneficials can aid pest management and how to go about boosting the number of beneficials you attract.

Link: Diss Monitor Farm Meeting: Manure Management | AHDB


Labour & machinery review – 14 January 2020

Richard’s machinery costs per hectare were calculated and a labour profile review was carried out the results of which can be found in the Diss Monitor Farm Labour and Machinery Review.

Review results were then discussed with AHDB Technical Manager Harry Henderson, comparing findings from Rookery Farm to reviews from other Monitor Farms to see if trends can be learnt from.


Effective manure management – 3 December 2019

Mel Holloway (ADAS) gave a rundown on the key steps to maximise nutrient-use efficiency and Nerys Wright (AHDB) how to utilise livestock in an arable rotation.

Link: Diss Monitor Farm Meeting: Manure Management | AHDB


Headland management – 5 November 2019

In the Headland Management Meeting the first set of trials were outlined:

  • Headland Management Try-out – assessing the effect of axle weights, tyres and tracks on headland compaction. The results from this trial can be found here: Diss Monitor Farm: Headland Management Try-out Results | AHDB.
  • Catch crops – looking at yield and establishment with the use of catch crops between harvest and second wheat.
  • OSR Companion Crop Trial – Does establishing an OSR crop with buckwheat and clover make a difference to CSFB pressure, yield, N content etc.?
  • CSFB control – rolling at different times of day and night for better flea beetle control.


Soil Health Scorecard case study – Autumn 2019

As part of the Soil Biology and Soil Health Partnership, AHDB have developed the Soil Health Scorecard. The scorecard consists of several key soil health indicators that, once tested for, are ranked against national and regional soil scores.

Analysis using the scorecard took place at Rookery Farm back in 2019, Richard felt it complimented the pre-existing soil testing regime well and provided a clear visual of areas within the soil he can improve.

For full results from the soil testing, visit: Diss Monitor Farm Soil Health Scorecard Case Study | AHDB

More information on the Soil Health Scorecard along with more case studies of it’s use can be found here: Testing the soil health scorecard | AHDB

Diss Monitor Farm in the press

If you would like to be included in the email invite list for future meetings, contact Ana Reynolds (Knowledge Exchange Manager Cereals & Oilseeds – East Anglia) via Ana.Reynolds@ahdb.org.uk or 07387015465.

Upcoming Meetings

17 June 2022, 9:30 AM - 17 June 2022, 1:00 PM

You are invited to join us on a farm walk at the Diss Monitor Farm Summer Meeting hosted by Richard Ling