Frequently asked questions


Below is a list of the most commonly-asked questions about CropBench+, on everything from how it came to be created, to what happens to the inputted data.



Why was CropBench+ created?


CropBench+ was launched in 2014 by AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds, to enable GB levy-paying arable farmers to benchmark their arable enterprises to help them improve their efficiency and profitability.  Cropbench+ is based on and supersedes, the computer based cost management tool ‘CropBench’ launched by AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds in 2005. The new ‘plus’ version is solely web-based, with a data collection service offered to Arable Business Groups.


How does benchmarking work?

Most farmers already compare, or benchmark, their performance informally, such as comparing crop yields with neighbours to give them ideas for areas where there may be scope to improve performance.


However, by using CropBench+ you can compare a whole range of data with your own group of fellow  growers, or anonymously with other growers within your region.  Reports cover physical and financial aspects of crop production systems and can help farmers discover best practice and develop new techniques—and, crucially, can help increase profits.


What can be measured?

Anything that can be measured can be benchmarked. This includes financial, technical, environmental and other farming elements.


The area, however, which can often help make the biggest improvement to a farm’s bottom line is costs. For many farmers, being able to reduce these is the key to improved performance or even survival.


How confidential is it - who else can see my data?

The CropBench+ database is managed and maintained by named AHDB employees. Beyond these named individuals no one can have access to any farmer’s individual data without the farmer’s Farm ID number and Authorisation Code. Any adviser or consultant can be granted access to your data but they would first need to obtain these numbers or codes, with the farmer’s permission.


If consent has not been given then no information which can be used to identify individual farms will be made available to any third party.


What do you do with the aggregate data?

Aggregated data is used for farmers to generate benchmark reports. Individual farm data will always be averaged over a sufficiently large number of farms (at least 6) so that no individual farm can be identified. Occasionally, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds may wish to publish general press articles, e.g. on increasing fertilizer costs over a particular period, which does not identify particular farmers.


However, there are strict guidelines on what can be released into the public domain. CropBench+ has been designed as a benchmarking tool specifically for farmers and sensitive information will not be published in the public domain. It must be stressed that the onus is on farmers, who have the final say on who is allowed access to their individual information, to use their figures responsibly and to be aware of whom they are allowing access to their information.


What form does the CropBench+ report take?


Currently CropBench+ produces an Enterprise Report which provides a breakdown of all costs incurred as well as a breakdown of enterprise income. The enterprise report calculates the total cost of production as well as the margin earned after all inputs have been paid for (net margin).

Farms are ranked in terms of percentages (i.e. in the top 33%, average, or bottom 33%) based on cost of production or net margin and where they feature compared with the farms in the sample. CropBench+ allows farmers to choose the ranking criterion.


Averages are only visible where information has been entered. Therefore, the more information entered the more comprehensive the end report generated. CropBench+ is an arable benchmarking system, reports are only generated for specific enterprise types and exclude other enterprises in order to keep it as relevant as possible.


What does CropBench+ involve?



Either entering your own data into the website, or if you are a member of an Arable Business Group, which would like to use CropBench+, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds offers a levy funded data collection and entry service which ensures consistency of method between growers.

Allocating all costs to the relevant enterprise or crop down to a net margin level, with rules applied on a consistent basis across farms.

Precise guidance is given in respect of the data sources needed to complete the enterprise costing; these sources go beyond farm accounts or cash books, however all data needed should be readily available on all farms.

Cost clusters are introduced which can be completed independently: key farm and output data, variable costs, labour, machinery and power, property, rent and finance and overheads.

Summary and detailed enterprise reports show growers their cost of production for each crop. The ranking of farms can be determined by total cost of production or by net margin.

The facility is present for individual growers to calculate their total costs of production by entering their actual rent and finance costs.  However in group scenarios, these costs are excluded because of their sensitive nature.  In order to give indicative costs of production across regions, the regional averages contain imputed rent and finance costs.


After CropBench+


Benchmarking your performance against others is extremely valuable. However, it is only the first step towards greater profitability. It should identify areas for potential improvement and lead you to a programme of actions, targets and on-going monitoring of performance.


For further details please visit the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds website.  Here you will find information about the Business Improvement Programme, Regional Manager activity and Monitor Farms, as well as Arable Business Groups, which may be of interest to you.