Saltash Monitor Farm

Ashley Jones
Farm sectors:
Cereals & Oilseeds
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About Saltash Monitor Farm

  • Smeaton Farm has been a monitor farm since June 2019.
  • 180ha Duchy tenancy – 100ha arable area with 50 suckler cows and 220 lambing mules.
  • Arable rotation includes winter wheat, barley and oats as well as spring barley and maize.
  • Soil types range from medium loam over shillet to clay soils.

Ashley Jones runs the mixed 190ha Smeaton Farm, which is part of the Duchy of Cornwall estate. In partnership with his family, he farms 100ha cereals with maize and potatoes in the rotation and has 200 head of beef and 200 ewes. Diversification activities on the farm include a bed and breakfast, maize maze, Christmas trees and agricultural contracting.

At the Monitor Farm launch meeting, Ashley expressed his goals for the three-year programme:

  • Continue to be an active farmer.
  • Double the current arable area whilst keeping profit margins.
  • Generate extra profit to replace BPS.
  • Develop a marketing profile for Smeaton Farm’s contracting services.
  • Ensure any newly proposed activities are complimentary to existing practices on the farm.

'PESTLE' analysis highlighted Brexit, market volatility and chemical operation restrictions, as well as others, as challenges to come.

Find full details from the launch meeting, here: Saltash Monitor Farm Launch Meeting | AHDB

Saltash Monitor Farm meetings & reports

Labour, power and machinery review – 12 February 2020

A comprehensive study into scale and profitability was undertaken at Saltash:

  • To get an accurate picture the whole business, not just the arable enterprise, was taken into account.
  • It was found that Ashley theoretically had the capacity to take on an extra 100ha into his arable rotation – reduction cost of production by £20-£30/t.
  • However, with labour stretched as it is at peak times the production-cost cuts may not be worth the hassle of expansion.
  • The same risk-reward conundrum was encountered when looking at increasing chemical inputs – protecting yield may not always warrant the cost of the chemicals.
  • Spring Barley was exposed as expensive in comparison to Ashley’s winter crops.
  • Machinery replacement was considered as a route where profitability could be safely increase.

The full Labour, Power & Machinery breakdown can be found here: Saltash Monitor Farm Labour & Machinery Review | AHDB


Profitable rotations – 6 November 2019

Sebastian Graff-Baker (Andersons) outlined key considerations for optimising crop rotations, find the take home messages from the meeting  in this report: Saltash Monitor Farm Profitable Rotations Meeting | AHDB

Managing for yield and margin – 18 November 2019

Explored factors that may limit yield and highlighted practices that can be optimised to reach yield potential without hurting margins. See the meeting report for full details: Saltash Monitor Farm YEN Meeting Report | AHDB


Soil Health Scorecard – Autumn 2019

Ashley is an advocate of soil testing and already sampled his whole farm every four years as part of a SOYL testing scheme.

The scheme monitors pH, Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) levels. Ashley has managed to halve his spend on supplementary P and K as a result of this regular testing.

Sewage sludge and Farmyard Manure were added to the fields at Smeaton Farm in an attempt to increase soil organic matter levels.

Soils at the monitor farm were assessed using the Soil Health Scorecard which yielded positive results, no doubt due to the attention to soil health Ashley already exhibits.

To find out more about the Soil Health Scorecard visit: Testing the soil health scorecard | AHDB

To read the full soil case study at Smeaton Farm, see the meeting report: Saltash Monitor Farm Case Study | AHDB

If you would like to be included in the email invite list for future meetings, contact Philip Dolbear (South West C&O Knowledge Exchange Manager), via or on 07964 255 614.

Upcoming Meetings

14 June 2022, 5:30 PM - 14 June 2022, 8:30 PM

Smeaton Farm, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6RZ

You are invited to join us for a farm walk at the Saltash Monitor Farm.