JVFG welcomes farmers to see what the group offers. Here is what one of this summer’s onlookers makes of JVFG, from having watched and heard one of this year’s meetings.

“I’m James Copas from Copas Farms, Maidenhead, Berkshire. Our arable cropping is 1800 acres growing oilseed rape, winter wheat and spring barley.

James Copas, Berkshire farmer, guest observer at JVFG meeting Summer 2017

James Copas valued the chance to eavesdrop on JVFG summer discussions

We are considering changing our sprayer at the moment. That’s one reason for listening carefully to the JVFG discussions I’ve been invited to as the member businesses are comparing costs of sprayers and their running costs. With regard to our own farming business, with a reduced acreage we have over-capacity of labour and machinery and therefore we’re interested in sharing machinery with other local farmers in the future and it will be important to  measure and  interpret quality data about individual  operation costs.

Benchmark with the best

A lot of benchmarking these days looks at gross margins. But to us that is not detailed enough. The major savings, we feel, can come from what we call operating costs. And it’s getting to understand these costs and where we can save money that’s important.

Regarding helping us with our next sprayer, the JVFG discussion I heard has been useful. It means I will be looking at some different manufacturers and makes out there. Seeing what makes these guys have got and which are the most reliable ones, comparing trailed versus self-propelled, it’s going to have a bearing on what we do in the near future. Every farm is slightly different. You just have to work out what is best for you and for your system.

Return on investment for data gathering

Of course you have to be concerned about the amount of time and effort it will take to gather and then to enter all the data for JVFG benchmarking.  You could be worried whether from all that effort I put in whether I will get the evidence I need to guide my management decisions back at home to improve my business going forward in the future.

It’s been really interesting being at a JVFG meeting. It is a very interesting group, an interesting bunch of people. They are clearly all very open-minded business people and want to be the best they can be.”