If you need to name one parameter that most farmers can accurately and regularly put their finger on – and discuss with ease and honesty – you would probably choose precipitation. Why? Tradition? Ease of measurement? With the heavens opening over much of dry UK at last, and rain gauges happily now showing results, this seems the perfect time to mention the importance of measuring so much more than just rainfall.

Measuring more than rain

With more than a splash of excitement, measurements of millimetres in rain gauges have been made and shared. Moisture readings from soil probes confirm the news. We can now enjoy admiring the crops’ response. The landscape emits a sigh of relief. So do the many UK farmers and growers who had miserably bemoaned the absence of precipitation and been faced, had dry conditions continued, with the disastrous effects on crops – and income. However there is so very much more that should and can be gauged.

The benchmarking of labour and machinery costs across the farm business is what JVFG excels in.  As one of the first elite benchmarking groups, JVFG has led the field in helping farmer members with a system to gather data about machinery costs, work rates, fuel usage and operator hours and then to crunch those numbers into easy-to-follow information and practical advice on what to do better.

You get out more than you put in

The counting, noting and inputting to spreadsheets requires diligence and determination, yes. The results, though, justify all that effort. If you want a firsthand impression of how businesses benefit then in June, at the next JVFG meeting, you have that opportunity. We welcome those interested in joining JVFG to see how how the group works and how the the seasonal benchmarked results are presented to us to inform decision-making.  JVFG is steadily growing in membership and increasing the land area covered by our data collection across UK.

Gauging the difference that benchmarking makes

When we gather for our summer discussions  yes, of course, the welcome rain – and conditions before and after – will be talked about. But conversations will quickly move on.  JVFG members already know that many, many more farms need to be counting and costing, data-gathering and gauging more about their business performance – and potential improvement, whatever the weather.