Case Study: Sentry Farming

Sentry is one of the largest farming companies in the UK with over 16,000 hectares under cultivation throughout the country. They have built a strong, sustainable faming business based on a forward-thinking and professional approach to both business and farming itself. John Barrett is Director at Sentry Norfolk, here's what he had to say:

“At Sentry we regularly review our farming practices to stay ahead of the curve, especially in this volatile time for UK farming. As a large farming company with many sites, it is essential we have best business practice across all farming operations.  

We came to know about Yagro through Agri-Tech East and watched them from inception in 2016, keen to see how a new player in the industry would get on and differentiate itself. On behalf of our landowners and investors, we needed confidence that Yagro’s technology and business model would work. 

With this confidence, the first step was to meet the team and understand their mission and philosophy. We immediately followed this by benchmarking our fuel buying against Yagro’s independent market data. The analysis showed that using the Yagro Marketplace for our fuel buying was an obvious way forward.  

Before Yagro, our farms bought fuel in different ways; some through buying groups, others shopped around, and some had sole supply relationships. We wanted a unified best practice that all our farms could use – and that saved us time and money.

We approached Yagro with a tough challenge: provide Sentry a system that enables best practice, that doesn’t take up any of our time, and saves us money as individual farms as well as a Group...!  

The result is fantastic and all Sentry farms now use Yagro as standard. Each farm manager has their own Yagro platform, digitally connected with all suppliers in their area. They have complete control over suppliers, quotes, delivery windows etc. Our manager find the best deal at a local level, while our head office, landowners, and investors, have the confidence of a fair, transparent and value adding process. 

Every farm operates autonomously, while the Yagro platform brings us under the same Sentry brand, code of practice, and values. This allows us to use our scale, and to generate efficiencies where ever possible. Each farm has their delivery locations on their Yagro account, and invoices are channelled directly to our head office in Suffolk. We do less paperwork on farm knowing that our accounts department has remote access to all the information they need for invoice reconciliation at the click of a button. 

Has it saved us money? Yes, and plenty of it too! We’ve already saved nearly £4,000, and on track to save around £45k over a full year. What’s difficult to calculate is the time saving: some of our farms would spend a couple of hours on the phone ringing around suppliers just to get a price. Now, technology does it all for us, and we can focus on the value-adding aspects of farming, knowing that Yagro’s independent tech tool is working on our behalf in the background. 

Having adopted the ordering process, some Sentry farms have now fitted independent tank monitors from Yagro, with alert levels to trigger automatic requests through the Marketplace. This ensures we don’t run out of fuel during a busy harvest, and don’t unnecessarily stress our suppliers’ logistics. So now, a process that could take us hours, takes less than a minute! We estimate this at £10k of labour savings.  

Taking things one step further: on my own farm in Norfolk, I’ve teamed up with neighbour Jamie Key from R W Key. Historically we would order fuel individually, but knew we could probably be better if we coordinated our buying. We just didn’t have the time! Yagro have developed their system to combine our ordering for us. By combining to fill 18’000 or 36’000 litre trucks, we both get the best deal in the market, with economies of scale we couldn’t reach individually. At £200 of saving per delivery it makes complete sense. Get it right and this could be another £65k per year of savings! If you farm near a Sentry farm and want to join in on the savings, be sure to get in touch with Yagro to get your farm all set up. 

We are excited to continue development with Yagro, building more technologies to help us on farm, and it is great to be at the forefront of tech in UK agriculture. With savings north of £120k per year to be had, it’s a no-brainer.” 

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