I grew up in Norfolk and have been involved in farm management since graduating from Shuttleworth Agricultural college in 1995. I am Director of Farming at Honingham Thorpe Farms where I have been employed for the past 15 years. The business farms 6,000 acres and cropping includes cereals, oilseeds, sugar beet and a range of irrigated crops including potatoes, onions and parsnips.
We participate in several trials on the farm including variety trials and one showing the benefit of grazing livestock within an arable rotation. We are involved with several diversification projects including office and warehouse lets, commercial grain storage and the development of a food and agricultural business park under the name of the Food Enterprise Park. I am married to my wife Becky and we have two children Sam and Katie who are 17 and 15. They are all keen on horses and we spend many weekends throughout the year travelling to various competitions across the country. I am currently the vice Chairman on Norfolk NFU and will take on the Chairs role in early 2021. This allows me to get involved with the wider issues facing our industry. In my spare time in enjoy rugby, shooting and spending time with my friends and family.
I would like to thank the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association for their generous sponsorship of this award. I would also like to thank my Employer and the team at Honingham Thorpe farms. Without their support I would not be able to complete this study.
Unlocking the potential of Data Use and Agri-tech within Agriculture
The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association
We along with many other farmers across the UK have been collecting various forms of data for the past 15 plus years. A large proportion of this data is sitting unused on various floppy discs, USB sticks and more recently in clouds gathering dust and not fulfilling it's potential. I would like to explore the barriers that are preventing farmers utilising this valuable information to help their businesses be more sustainable. As farming enters a period of uncertainty, with the loss of direct support payments it will be more important than ever for farmers to understand their costs and to identify which parts of their business is profitable and those which are not. I believe with the use of technology and the data it produces we should be able to set individual fields as cost centres, recording all activities, inputs and outputs. We can then identify which areas can be profitably farmed and which areas might be best used to deliver public goods. The technology is available today, but it is offered to farmers in different formats with one system not being compatible with another. We need a common format that will allow information to be gathered and shared to unlock it's potential.