NEW research published by Hectare Agritech has revealed the difficult business landscape UK farmers are operating in; nearly half (46%) do not think their business is profitable and secure for the future, and eight out of ten (80%) are worried about difficulties on the horizon.

Price and land availability were listed as the two biggest and most common barriers to profitability: half of farmers (52%) stated that price fluctuations for products sold was their current biggest limitation to their business success, while a similar number (49%) see it as their biggest future limitation too. A third of farmers also viewed land availability as a current (34%) and future (30%) challenge.

Hectare Agritech, the parent company of digital marketplaces SellMyLivestock and Graindex, surveyed 342 UK farmers about their future business plans and outlook, with the results highlighting the pressures facing the UK’s agriculture industry.

The findings further revealed the key challenges facing farmers when it comes to buying and selling:

• Only a third (32%) agreed that there is always a competitive market for their produce with plenty of buyers

• Half (49%) agreed that, at times, there is a shortage of buyers and they have little choice of where they sell

• Half (47%) agreed that they need more clarity from buyers about what they are seeing and what they will pay for.

So with pressure mounting, farmers need to look at incorporating new processes within their business, to ensure they can deal with current challenges and prepare for future difficulties.

However, while eight out of ten (82%) farmers believe that trialling new ideas and approaches is critical to their future success, only a half (56%) actively seek new technology to help improve their business. To compound this even further; a similar number (51%) have not significantly changed how their business works to improve efficiency or grow, for over a year, while nearly two-thirds of farmers (67%) trial new technology once a year or less, and a fifth (19%) admit to never trialling new technology.

Commenting on the findings, Doug Bairner, CEO at Hectare, said: “The route to success and profitability in farming is getting harder. Margins are getting tighter, and with increasing operating costs, the agricultural industry needs to find ways to make itself more efficient and competitive. Adopting technology is seen as a lifeline for the majority of the farmers we spoke to, and for those who do trial new technologies - both within the output and input side of their business - they’re reaping the benefits. More often than not, adopting new technological solutions can be quick and simple to use, and it can help farmers and agricultural businesses to save time, money and resources.

This is even more important when it comes to buying and selling livestock or grain. Online marketplaces provide transparency, traceability, and efficiency. For farmers this means they become price makers rather than price takers, and the businesses buying from them gain significant efficiency benefits.”