The steady expansion of JVFG continues. The latest farm business to join is Chalke Valley Farming from near Salisbury. The venture is growing spring barley, oilseed rape and winter wheat on the open, rolling, chalk, down land of Wiltshire.

Ambitious agriculture

The business began in 2006 and has grown steadily, 1000 acres at a time, into a 4500 acre operation.  Paul Garfoot is now at the helm having taken over from one of the original directors and is responsible for steering the business.

Paul Garfoot, Chalk Valley Venture Farming, Wiltshire "JVFG is ideal.

Paul Garfoot, Chalke Valley Farming, Wiltshire, is impressed by what JVFG offers.

“Rather than just moving along by continuing to do things as we always done, we wanted to challenge ourselves and see where we can get the business performance to.”

Measure it to manage it

On joining JVFG the member farm begins the data collection of the hours and machinery used in each operation. The first chance for Chalke Valley Farming to see how their costs of establishment measure up against figures from others in the group will come at the summer discussion event in June.  Paul Garfoot admits to a little apprehension about how his farming will fare under scrutiny. “As the new boy in the gang I’m quite expecting to be quite low down the rankings compared with others. But that’s the right thing and what you need to train the mind to thinking about what we can do and how to get better. We might get a nice surprise and find that we are doing a bit better than we fear. The whole point is that with JVFG you get a good sounding board to discuss the detail of how efficient you are, how much more efficient you want to be and how to get there.”

Growing interest

As interest in benchmarking to this level of excellence grows there is the possibility that there will be regional alliances of members. “What we’re hoping is to link up with other joint venture businesses in our region so that we can have a southern group in the UK and target our discussions to our weather and soil type”.

Seeing the bigger picture

The previous time that commodity prices fell sharply triggered interest in benchmarking. “The same things is happening again”, says Paul Garfoot, “Too many of us in agriculture stay blinkered and continue doing things the same. With JVFG you know you are with farmers who, like you, want to be looking at the bigger picture and be prepared to do different.”