19 June 2017

Farmers Weekly Awards 2017: Shortlist announce

Farmers up and down the country entered this year’s Farmers Weekly Awards for 15 categories covering a range of enterprise types and farming excellence.

We have now whittled down the entries to announce the shortlisted candidates. See who’s in the running for the Oscars of the farming industry below.

Ag Student of the Year

Helen Brown, Kirkbampton, Cumbria

An interest in science cemented Harper student Helen’s desire to become an agronomist. Keen to learn from other countries, she has visited Canada, Switzerland and Ireland on study tours.

Josh Dowbiggin, Barnoldswick, Lancashire

Harper student Josh breeds his own Herefords and runs a stud business. He would one day like to work in the supply chain, with the aim of improving collaboration.

Robbie Stevenson, Holm, Orkney

While studying for his BSc at SRUC, Robbie secured finance to take on the family farm. He has a bronze in the Pinnacle Awards for Excellence in Business Management and was 2016 Beef Stockman of the Year.

Arable Farmer of the Year

Mark Bowsher-Gibbs, near Sittingbourne, Kent

A focus on benchmarking has seen Mark cut production costs on 1,169ha of arable cropping. This, combined with adding value, is helping the business cope with low prices.

John Pawsey, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Soil management is at the heart of John’s 1,600ha of organic cropping. Bold changes, made three years ago, are starting to make a difference to pest, weed and disease levels.

Shaun Watson, near Newcastle, Northumberland

Shaun is driving up wheat yields on 730ha of arable cropping, with some fields approaching 13t/ha, by using precision technology to tackle poor performing areas of fields.

Beef Farmer of the Year

Steve and Jo Pile, Bradford-upon-Avon, Wiltshire

Since starting their beef business in 1997, Steve and Jo have been dedicated to maximising efficiency and animal welfare, as their 500-head calf rearing unit demonstrates.

Paul and Dwynwen Williams, Llanrwst, Conwy

Since taking on this challenging upland farm in 2013, Paul and Dwynwen have expanded their 40-strong suckler herd through investment in housing and a focus on data and technology.

Ian Willison, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

Genetics, high health and grass management are behind this successful suckler herd. Ian has made huge changes to raise productivity and believes that only when you know your baselines can you start to improve.

Contractor of the Year

Russell Price Farm Services, Ledbury, Herefordshire

Russell has transformed his struggling 40ha farm into a one-stop shop for agricultural contracting. He has 150 active clients, plus crop protection and machinery sales divisions.

Drew Watson & Co, Mouswald, Dumfries and Galloway

Drew has been providing a technology-focused service for more than 50 years. He has invested in yield mapping for foragers, GPS for tractors and telematics to manage the team and improve record-keeping.

Westover Farm Contractors, Calbourne, Isle of Wight

Robert has managed to overcome the challenges of working on an island by offering payment plans to suit the cashflow needs of his customers; he also runs a purpose-built workshop to keep his fleet in tip-top condition.

Dairy Farmer of the Year

Tim Downes, Longnor, Shropshire

Tim milks 400 spring-calving dairy cows on an organic system. Superb grassland management and a focus on cow health mean he hasn’t used antibiotics for four years.

Neville Loder, Sherborne, Dorset

A tight spring-calving block is allowing this first-generation tenant farmer to achieve sound financial results from his herd of 147 cross-bred cows.

Alan and Donna Webber, Crediton, Devon

Outstanding fertility rates and good grassland management is helping this couple achieve 3,721 litres from forage with their autumn-calving herd of three-way crosses currently hitting 7,000 litres at 4.62% fat and 3.38% protein.

Diversification Farmer of the Year

Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore, Bungay, Suffolk

Bolstered by the success of their farmgate raw milk sales, Jonny and Dulcie developed a unique product range that boasts the UK’s only raw-milk Brie-style cheese.

Simon and Jackie McCreery, Haddington, East Lothian

Fed up with having no control over milk prices, Simon and Jackie converted a grain shed into a cheese factory and created products for the Scottish cream and soft cheese sector.

The Nicholson family, Barnsley, East Yorkshire

The Nicholsons have added value across the working farm enterprises, including one of the biggest adventure playgrounds in northern England, while creating 250 jobs to educate the public about farming.

Farm Adviser of the Year

Ainsley Baker, Kite Consulting, Cheshire

Working with farmer groups accounts for more than half of Ainsley’s time. He puts an emphasis on animal health and welfare, as well as business planning and expansion.

Richard Gooding, British Quality Pigs, Suffolk

Encouraging best husbandry practices and monitoring pig performance data are just two of the services offered by Richard. He is also proud of the help he has given new entrants to the sector.

Andrew Jenkinson, Robinson and Hall, Buckinghamshire

As well as helping clients with subsidy applications, Andrew’s consultancy skills extend to restructuring finances, preparing for succession and dealing with national infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Farm Manager of the Year

Scott Bagwell, Whitechurch, Dorset

Scott is focused on pushing up yields and cutting costs. On his mixed farm, he looks to premium enterprises such as growing oats and producing milk for a major retailer.

Chris Baylis, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

Forward-thinking Chris focuses on cultivation policy, cover crops and the use of livestock as he prepares for likely farm subsidy support cuts across the two big estates he manages in Lincolnshire and Berkshire.

Paul Redmore, Corsham, Wiltshire

Paul runs a 300-strong organic Jersey herd and supplies milk to four processors. Cow numbers have doubled in the past two years to provide milk for cheese and ice cream, as well as supplying liquid milk and cream to top London stores.

Farmworker of the Year

Stephen John Adams, Caxton, Cambridge

Stephen is a multitalented innovator. He has designed and modified several items of farm kit to improve the efficient and safe running of the farm he has worked on for 37 years.

Gary Hawker, Dorchester, Dorset 

Gary plays an active role in business planning and financial decision-making on a 450-head milking herd in Dorset, using data to raise levels of productivity and animal welfare.

Hugh Sapsed, Pertenhall, Bedfordshire

Conservation and protecting the environment lie at the heart of everything Hugh does. He is a keen problem solver and ensures he stays abreast of technological advancements and techniques.

Mixed Farmer of the Year

Neil McGowan, Alyth, Blairgowrie

Neil takes a scientific approach to breeding quality livestock that finish quickly on forage, and is an active member of his local breed society.

Robert Neill, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire

Robert has designed his cereal and cattle enterprises to complement one another and his enthusiastic uptake of new technology focuses on streamlining tasks and cutting costs.

Emily Norton, Frettenham, Norwich, Norfolk

A strong family unit is at the heart of this Norfolk business. A passion for the industry has led to a huge amount of outreach work alongside creating an own-brand range of dairy products.

Pig Farmer of the Year

Guy King, Dereham, Norfolk

First-generation farmer Guy runs  3,350 breeding sows. He started with 500 breeding sows 10 years ago and the business now employs 16 people.

Howard Revell, Stradbroke, Suffolk

Responsible for 10% of the UK sow herd, with more than 40,000 outdoor breeding sows and 300,000 growing pigs, Howard puts welfare at the heart of everything he does.

Stephen and Karen Thompson, Sheffield, Yorkshire

Impressive production figures underpin Stephen and Karen’s herd of 210 pigs. The pair produce pork, bacon, ham and sausages in their own butchery under the Moss Valley brand.

Poultry Farmer of the Year

Robert Chapman, Farmlay Eggs, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

Farmlay eggs has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. The family owned enterprise employs 40 people and markets more than 15m Scottish-produced eggs every month.

Matthew Green, Wot A Pullet, Warter, York

Matthew sees outstanding customer service as the cornerstone to his success in taking his company from free-range poultry farm to one of the UK’s largest pullet-rearing operations.

Rebecca Tonks, St Ewe Free Range Eggs, Truro, Cornwall

Rebecca’s innovative approach has transformed the family farm into Cornwall’s only British-Lion-approved packhouse, with plans to install an egg pasteurisation plant.

Sheep Farmer of the Year

Dafydd Jones, Penegoes Machynlleth, Powys

Self-sufficiency in feed protein has been a key development on Dafydd’s 189ha organic farm, where water harvesting, shelterbelt and solar panel initiatives help to underpin sustainability.

Sam Jones, Redditch, Worcestershire

Innovation and excellent animal welfare have seen Sam raise profits on his 203ha farm while lowering sheep numbers. Scrutinising soil and animal nutrition ensures the arable enterprise complements the flock.

Matt and Pip Smith, Launceston, Cornwall

Matt’s global experiences of sheep farming and Pip’s shrewd eye for figures delivers a profitable, low-input flock that takes care of itself. The 122ha farm is a showcase for grazing, selecting and shearing sheep.

Specialist Crop Producer of the Year

Dafydd Jones, Penegoes Machynlleth, Powys

Self-sufficiency in feed protein has been a key development on Dafydd’s 189ha organic farm, where water harvesting, shelterbelt and solar panel initiatives help to underpin sustainability.

Sam Jones, Redditch, Worcestershire

Innovation and excellent animal welfare have seen Sam raise profits on his 203ha farm while lowering sheep numbers. Scrutinising soil and animal nutrition ensures the arable enterprise complements the flock.

Matt and Pip Smith, Launceston, Cornwall

Matt’s global experiences of sheep farming and Pip’s shrewd eye for figures delivers a profitable, low-input flock that takes care of itself. The 122ha farm is a showcase for grazing, selecting and shearing sheep.

Young Farmer of the Year

James Fairlie, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

James worked in Australia before returning to the family’s 900ha arable business. He has introduced a 500kW anaerobic digester and contract farms a neighbouring 570ha.

Robert Greenow, High Offley, Staffordshire

Passionate about engineering, Robert owns a 249kW anaerobic digester, which is up and running on a friend’s farm. Nurturing close relationships with others in the farming industry, he also has two larger projects in construction.

Molly Westwood, Chulmleigh, Devon

Twenty-six-year-old Molly runs Panda Holsteins – a Holstein genetic business breeding and producing high-quality animals for conformation, genomics, production and longevity.