Farmbench helps you get to grips with your farm costs by highlighting your business strengths and weaknesses and allows you to make informed decisions.
Our industry will experience significant change over the coming years and the knock on effect for your business is exposure to fluctuating prices, currency swings and adverse weather events, to name but a few. Your ability to protect your business by managing these risks and building resilience will become more and more important if you want to remain competitive.
AHDB’s Farmbench is a web based tool that allows you to input your own data and importantly to split your costs between all the enterprises you have on your farm. Costs can be split between beef, sheep, potato and arable enterprises with dairy and sugar beet becoming available in autumn 2018. A report is then generated for each farm enterprise and this breaks down the costs to clearly show you exactly what you are spending and where. The next step is to compare where you are with your peers and we encourage you to do this at AHDB on-farm business groups where you can safely share aggregated and anonymised data.
Once you have this level of information about your costs you can start to make confident and informed decisions about the future direction of your business.
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Farmbench case studies
Frequently Asked Questions
Farmbench is an online, interactive, business tool that covers Cereals and Oilseeds, Potatoes and Beef and Lamb enterprises and allows farmers & growers to enter their costs in one go. This allows users to get a better understanding of all their costs and detailed enterprise data.
Farmbench allows you to evaluate business performance by comparing agreed performance indicators against a group of your peers. Many farmers already do this informally by discussing yields and output prices with other producers, however Farmbench allows you to explore the full impact of these on the bottom line.
The ultimate aim of Farmbench is to allow a group to discuss and share best practice in all areas of their businesses, before making evidence based decisions to improve profitability.
The basic principle of benchmarking is that if you can measure it, you can manage it.
Broadly, there are three categories of performance indicators:
- Financial (e.g. sales, costs and margins)
- Technical (e.g. utilisation of fertilisers or animal health products)
- Production (e.g. outputs such as crop yields or progeny sold per breeding animal)
There are a number of ways that AHDB report Farmbench data back to producers.
- If you are a member of a discussion or monitor farm group, you will receive group reports and can take part in a feedback meeting organised by your Knowledge Exchange Manager and Regional Benchmarking Officer.
- The AHDB national sector reports will also continue to be published annually which allows producers to compare their figures to the national data set grouped into top, middle, and bottom third.
- Crucially, all Farmbench users will be able to access reports at any time using the website comparing their performance against an average of at least 12 other similar businesses. You can select different criteria e.g. £ per hectare, £ per kg/tonne, £ per head
The principal purpose of the data is for AHDB to produce benchmarked figures to feed back to producers through discussion groups or individual reports.
In addition, AHDB uses the aggregated data to support its national market intelligence publications such as the annual Stocktake report and to inform our strategic recommendations to the industry. Other than individual reports for Farmbench users, AHDB will never display your data without your expressed consent and it is anonymous or included within an aggregated sample.
Farmbench will allow you to give access to your data as “consultant” in the 'my businesses' section of the website, provided they are a registered user and have the correct permissions on their accounts.
Historic Cropbench+ reports will be transferred into Farmbench to allow users to compare their performance against previous years, however due to the additional functionality of Farmbench, comparisons may not be entirely like for like.
Any other required access should be discussed with your Regional Benchmarking Officer.
The data in Cropbench and Stocktake will be held by AHDB and old records can still be accessed via your Regional Officer.
If you would like further information on AHDB benchmarking or the Farmbench system, please contact your Regional Benchmarking Officer or Knowledge Exchange Manager
Once you have registered an account on Farmbench you can enter your data and view your reports. You can also try the following:
- Get involved in a discussion or monitor farm group near you
- Attend an AHDB event focussing on a particular topic which you wish to improve
- Make use of the Farmbench budgeting tool to set objectives for future business performance
I see real value in benchmarking and I’ve been participating for years. What’s new and better this time round?
With Farmbench you can input the data for all your enterprises which makes it much easier to allocate 100 per cent of your fixed costs. The system is also much more intuitive and easy to use than previous benchmarking tools, allowing you to take ownership of your data, make informed decisions and get tangible results.
If you know your costs that’s a great start. However, do you know how you compare to your peers or your international competition? The group discussions and learning in a peer-to-peer environment is what makes the difference. Getting into the detail and drilling down into what is behind the numbers is where the real best practice messages are drawn out.
I’m really nervous that a buyer is going to get access to my (our group) figures and use them in contract negotiation.
AHDB adheres to and complies with the new General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) introduced in May 2018. This means your personal data is never shared without your explicit permission or knowledge. The group reports exclude sensitive areas such as rent and finance/borrowings.
All you are going to do is show how the top growers differ from the bottom growers. This is bad for the industry’s reputation.
Farmbench is about finessing and fine tuning individuals cost of production so they can make informed decisions for their future as a sustainable business.
Sometimes these will be a reality check. Very often this informs succession plans and crucial decisions for all family members in the farming business.
Unless we as an industry can recognise our strengths and weakenesses we are unable to improve and develop. Our ability to be progressive and competitive is much more important to our reputation.
The only way you would be disowned is if you were dishonest about your costings. If figures highlight high costings, that could you could improve, this can only be advantageous to you and your business.
I’ve worked hard to get a commercial advantage and I’m worried that I’ll be sharing it with competitors.
The rules are defined by the group and with consensus of the individual members from the outset. Specific commercially sensitive information such as contracts and rents, we advise, are not shared or discussed within the group environment.
As an agronomist, I’m already helping my clients through GateKeeper and other software. How does this benefit me?
Farmbench is free to use as part of your levy and is a cost analysis and comparison tool rather than accounts or management package. The added value is the group discussions and interaction. You will receive dedicated support from AHDB facilitators staged over a number of sessions as part of continuous improvement.
I don’t like group work – I’m very secretive about my business but I do like to see how everyone else is doing from time to time.
Unfortunately discussion groups are not for everyone. This format works on trust, open learning and sharing experiences. It has to be give and take.
Please watch our farmer video stories for more information on how Farmbench can help you and your business grow.
Farmbench is available for anyone in the world to use, however it is not currently supported by AHDB outside the UK.