Northampton Monitor Farm

Rick Davies
East Midlands
Farm sectors:
Cereals & Oilseeds
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About Northampton Monitor Farm

  • MTH Davies has been a monitor farm since July 2018.
  • 404ha arable rotation includes milling wheat, malting spring barley for feed and HOLL oilseed rape.
  • Soil types range from sandy loam and corn brash to silt and heavy clay loam.

Rick Davies farms 404ha in partnership with his parents, trading as MTH Davies, between Northampton, Bedford and Milton Keynes. He grows Group 1 milling wheat, malting spring barley and HOLL oilseed rape, adding value wherever possible all for premium markets. The soil is a mixture of sandy loam, corn brash, silt and heavy clay loam. 

Crops are currently established with a Claydon-based direct drill and Rick is open to looking at other establishment methods. The Davies family have a number of diversification activities from Office and industrial lets to boxed beef and self-storage these other incomes allow the business to be more risk adverse. Drainage and flooding are a unique challenge to the farm as it sits just 2m above sea level on the bank of the river Ancholme

During the three years of the Monitor Farm programme Rick hopes to increase his business resilience, reduce fixed and variable costs while maintaining yields and improve soil health for a sustainable future. The full list of aims, opportunities and threats can be found in the initial SWOT analysis conducted at the Monitor Farm launch meeting.]

Northampton Monitor Farm meetings & reports

Learning from other industries – 28 January 2020

In this meeting the group asked the question “What do successful businesses do?” and took a look at a case study of a farm that diversified to meet local demand and starting producing turf. Find out more information in the meeting report.


Summer meeting & farm walk – 2 July 2019

In the farm walk and summer meeting report you can find full treatment details for Rick’s milling wheat, as well as an update on marketing his crops and pressure from disease.

Plans for Northampton Monitor Farm in 20/21 include:

  • Joint venture fattening beef on a paddock system
  • Cover crops – extension of existing grass growing for a local dairy farmer
  • Looking into machinery sharing
  • Mid-tier agreement for owned & FBT land
  • More containers
  • Look into erecting more industrial units

Martin Grantley-Smith (AHDB) and Sean Rickard (Agricultural Economist) gave talks about the current state of grain markets and what challenges cereal growers are going to face over the coming years in a post-Brexit landscape. Key points from these informative talks can also be found the summer meeting report.


Soil health II: Above ground – 14 May 2019

A quick farm update was followed by talks from Neil Fuller (Biosystems) and Tom Robinson (Bionature) concerning the importance of soil in sustainability and how to manage soil carbon levels.

Rick’s update included pictures from his field trials as well as an unexpected counter with Septoria and yellow rust, full details form the update as well as the talks can be found in the meeting report.


Organics & CTF – 10 December 2019

John Pawsey (Shimpley Park Farm) drew on his experience at his organic farm and delivers a talk about what has, and hasn’t, worked for him. The group also discussed the benefit of controlled traffic farming. Take-home messages from the meeting can be found in the meeting report.


Joint ventures – 27 November 2019

Charles Matts (Brixworth Farming Company) explained why and how the Brixworth Farming Company joint venture was set up and Jon Thame (Ellacotts) outlines the several different types of a joint venture. Meeting report: Northampton Monitor Farm Joint Ventures Meeting Report | AHDB


Grain marketing – 22 January 2019

Rick walks through his success and failures regarding changes he’s made over the winter. Employing a variable seed rate seemed to lead to a good wheat crop establishment but late drilling of OSR lead to a lot of land being condemned.

Rick also talks about the following trials that were taking place on the farm:

  • 12ha stubble turnips trial
  • Cover crops trial
  • Seed-dressing trial
  • Compost trial

More information, as well as in-depth information from discussions about the grain market, can be found in the Northampton Monitor Farm Grain Marketing meeting report.


Soil health: Below ground – 18 December 2018

Elizabeth Stockdale (NIAB) described what exactly good soil health looks like and addresses commonly ask questions related to the topic. Simon Cowell (Henry Cowell & Son) gave a detailed account of his success using ‘Biological Farming’; a series of soil-centric changes he’s made on his farm in Essex.

Full details from the meeting can be found in the meeting report.


Machinery costs – 27 November 2018

Rick gave a farm update including a 2018 harvest overview, cultivation strategies and black-grass control. In addition to this, a comprehensive labour and machinery review was conducted on the farm. The full breakdown of which can be found in the review meeting report.

Once results are collected from the review that can be compared to other farms in the Monitor Farm network. This allows trends to be spotted and hopefully learned from.

If you would like to be included in the email invite list for future meetings, contact Judith Stafford (East Midlands Cereals & Oilseeds Knowledge Exchange Manager) via or on 01335390023.