Mixed Shropshire farm brings new focus to Monitor Farm scheme

Monday, 29 April 2019

J R Lay Farms at Wolverley, Loppington is one of the latest to join AHDB’s Monitor Farm scheme.

Rory Lay runs the 457 ha mixed family farm which has cereals, sheep and beef, and is keen to look at the farm as a whole.

He said: “I want to see what value the livestock bring to the arable part of the farm, and vice versa.”

Rory already knows the benefits from being involved in a Monitor Farm. He said:

“I’ve been to some of the meetings at Bridgnorth Monitor Farm and they’ve been very useful. It’s good to chat about the topics of the day. I even started trying out triticale since seeing the trials that Adrian Joynt was doing in Bridgnorth.”


A key part of the Monitor Farm scheme is looking in detail at the farm costs and benchmarking them against others in a confidential group. This is something that Rory is particularly keen to do.

“About three years ago we converted to strip-tillage on the arable farm. I know it’s saved us huge amounts of money, because it’s cut our labour hours and we were able to get rid of a big tractor. But I don’t yet have the figures on the costings, so that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to host a Monitor Farm project.

“I hope the Monitor Farm will give me a chance to look more in detail at all of my costings, and to compare how I’m doing with other farmers through benchmarking with Farmbench.”

Technical issues

There are a lot of technical things on Rory’s list to look in to, once he starts the Monitor farm process this summer. He wants to look in to alternative crops, especially since there’s clubroot on the farm and he needs to find a decent forage crop for the sheep.

He also wants to focus on increasing soil health, looking at what he’s doing at the moment and whether there’s any more he could do to improve the soil.

It’s not just the health of the soil that’s important to Rory, though. Employee health and safety is high on his list:

“I want to bring our health and safety on the farm up to a sensible level. We’re reasonably good and we’ve proactively changed the way we work with animals to improve our safety already. But what else do we need to do? How will it physically work and what will it cost? Would increased safety protocols stop us doing our jobs?”


Ultimately, Rory’s goal is to keep the business going for future generations.

Rory said: “I’d like to have a viable business to hand down to my children, if they want it! I think the Monitor Farm project will help my own business become more efficient, and will also help neighbouring farmers.”

The launch meeting at Loppington Monitor Farm will be on 6 June 2019. For more information or to register, visit ahdb.org.uk/events or contact local Knowledge Exchange Manager Richard Meredith on richard.meredith@ahdb.org.uk