Duxford Monitor Farm
About Duxford Monitor Farm
- Bleak House and Law Farming have been Monitor Farms since June 2018
- Bleak House is 377ha of arable cropping, growing wheat, barley, oats and oilseed rape, as well as sugar beet
- The farm uses a mixture of ploughing and minimal tillage cultivation, aiming to cultivate as shallow as possible when the conditions allow
- Law Farming has 1,355ha of arable cropping including rye, wheat, barley, oats, spring barley, forage rape, spring mustard and sugar beet
- The farm is ploughed for grass leys and winter and spring barley, but a one pass operation is used elsewhere
Tom Mead and David Hurst have hosted the Duxford Monitor Farm together since 2018. They farm within nine miles of each other at the Hertfordshire-Cambridgeshire border.
With different businesses but common goals and problems, the jointly-hosted Monitor Farm provides an opportunity to look at collaboration, farm management and business resilience from two different perspectives.
Tom Mead is a partner at Bleak House Farm in Cambridgeshire. The family farm has 377ha of arable cropping, growing wheat, barley, oats and oilseed rape, as well as sugar beet. They use a mixture of ploughing and minimal tillage cultivation, aiming to cultivate as shallow as possible when the conditions allow. The farm has storage capacity for around 2,000 tonnes. Winter barley and OSR are generally sold at harvest and wheat and oats are stored longer and marketed between harvest and the following spring. Tom is a graduate of the Tesco Future Farmers programme and is particularly interested in running an efficient farm business on a small scale. He also wants to find ways to push the business forward, looking in detail at soils, how to stay profitable, focus on the customer and maintain a good work-life balance.
David Hurst was the arable manager at Law Farming in Hertfordshire. The business has 1,355ha of arable cropping including rye, wheat, barley, oats, spring barley, forage rape, spring mustard and sugar beet. The farm also has a 1,750 head sheep flock, rents land out for pigs and there are plans to introduce cattle back on to the farm. There are three full-time staff and a harvest student. The farm is ploughed for grass leys and winter and spring barley, but a one pass operation is used elsewhere. David’s ambition for the business in the short term was to continue to reduce fixed and variable costs, without affecting productivity or the quality or value of output. During the Monitor Farm programme, David is looking forward to learning from other farmers and wider industries across the supply chain.
David has now been successful with moving to a new role as a Senior Associate Director with Strutt & Parker, carrying out farm management consultancy in Northumberland. Tom Mead is continuing to remain as host of the Duxford Monitor Farm. The programme will continue over the summer and autumn, concluding in winter 2021/22, with upcoming topics of discussion including ways to improve nitrogen use efficiency and the calculation of carbon emissions and sequestration.
Duxford Monitor Farm meetings and reports
To read reports from previous Duxford Monitor Farm meetings, watch webinar recordings or view the on-farm videos, please click on the links below:
- East Anglian Monitor Farms regional update: February 2021 (webinar recording)
- Monitor Farm Monday Webinar – Planning a fungicide programme (webinar recording)
- East Anglia Monitor Farm Summer Meeting: 22 June 2020 (webinar recording)
- East Anglia Monitor Farm Summer Meeting: 22 June 2020
- Plant nutrition: 14 February 2020
- Labour and machinery: 17 January 2020
- Yield and breeding: 9 December 2019
- Soils and rooting: 15 November 2019
- Summer meeting: 7 June 2019
- Lessons from outside our industry: 18 January 2019
- Farm business accounts and benchmarking: Monday 17 December 2018
- Drilling, crop establishment and seed rates: 16 November 2018
- Duxford Monitor Farm launch event: 19 June 2018
Duxford Monitor Farm in the press and on social media
- Break crops video update from Tom Mead (April 2021)
- Advice on managing machinery costs before BPS phase-out (Farmers Weekly, 8/2/20)
- Record-breaking temperatures see farmers get ahead (Farmers Weekly, 26/2/19)
- 6 newcomers join arable Monitor Farms network (Farmers Weekly, 30/3/17)
Further information and local links
If you would like to get involved or to find out more about the Duxford Monitor Farm, please contact Teresa Meadows, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for East Anglia on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07387 015465.
There are also the following Monitor and Strategic Farms for the cereals and oilseeds sector in East Anglia to get involved with:+