Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Norfolk farmer Michael Balls welcomed visitors to the launch of the new Norwich Monitor Farm last month – the Crown Point Estate at Kirby... Launch event for Norfolk’s latest Monitor Farm

Norfolk farmer Michael Balls welcomed visitors to the launch of the new Norwich Monitor Farm last month – the Crown Point Estate at Kirby Bedon.

Mr Balls, who looks after the diverse arable enterprise south-east of Norwich, joined the estate as farm manager in 2021. He said he was keen to trial some innovative techniques within the farming system and share his experiences with other growers.

The monitor farm programme is a knowledge exchange initiative led by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. It encourages growers and livestock producers to share their successes – and failures – with fellow farmers.

The launch meeting included an introduction to the farm business, including cropping, agronomy and soils. It also saw discussions on machinery, cultivation and establishment techniques –  as well as cover crops, stewardship and diversification.

‘Real farm’ situation

The Crown Point Estate is one of three new farms to join 13 existing AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Monitor Farms. The others are Hall Farm, Beverley (East Yorkshire); and Manor Farm, Bingham (Nottinghamshire).

Ana Reynolds, head of engagement at AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, said: “At the heart of the Monitor Farm programme is the demonstration of trials of new cropping or techniques in ‘real farm’ situations.

“While we encourage attendance at all Monitor Farm open days, the launch of new farms is a great time to get involved in the programme, influence the discussions and watch progress first hand.

The pace of change in UK agriculture meant there had never been a better time to get involved, said Ms Reynolds. With each farm hosting regular open meetings, the monitor farm initative included a diverse array of expertise, farm types and systems.

“There really is something for everyone,” said Ms Reynolds. As a free programme centred on peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, the discussion and independent results can help shape the future of your farm as part of the wider industry.”