Friday, 12 June 2020
Cereal and oilseeds farmer Gary Willoughby is the latest addition to AHDB’s Farm Excellence network and hopes to find success under scrutiny at the new Wainfleet Monitor Farm.
Gary and his wife Debbie begin a three-year term as an Monitor Farm. In a bid to help them try out new methods and discuss making on-farm improvements, he will ask fellow growers to help him scrutinise his business.
Based seven miles inland from Skegness, second-generation farmer Gary oversees 75 hectares of owned land, as well as some tenanted and contracted land. His arable crops include wheat, barley, oilseed rape, beans and peas.
Gary and Debbie have only recently come back to the farm, having returned from travelling in 2015. Since then they have been juggling the dual roles of growing the business while bringing up a young family.
Gary said, “We want to use the Monitor Farm programme to take stock and work out where we’re going. Debbie and I want to build a strong and profitable business, providing us with a good work/life balance that will support us in later years”
Soil health is top of the agenda. Gary is keen to use the meetings to review his cultivation techniques. With the government phasing in the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, he also hopes to discuss planning for the upcoming changes in agricultural policy. Looking to the future, Gary is also interested in talking about succession planning.
Supporting Gary in his new role is Judith Stafford, AHDB’s Knowledge Exchange Manager for the East Midlands. Judith will help Gary organise meetings and provide AHDB tools and resources over the next three years.
“It’s not easy bringing up a young family while running a profitable business, but Gary and Debbie have achieved a lot in the last five years. I think they’ve joined the programme at just the right time. Learning from other farmers will help them take their business to the next level”
Monitor Farms are part of AHDB’s Farm Excellence programme: a network of farmers dedicated to driving the industry forward by sharing best practice and trying new methods. Regular meetings are held over the winter and early spring. They are free and open to anyone interested in coming along. You can find out more about the network in your area by visiting the Farm Excellence homepage.