GROWER OF THE YEAR
David has been farm manager for McGregor farms on the Scottish borders since 2008. The farm consists of 300 hectares and a further 3,000 hectares of cropped land on a contact farmed basis. The cropping is made up of oilseed rape, winter wheat, spring barley, spring oats, spring beans, vining peas and potatoes. Rotations depend on soil type and capabilities. McGregor farms have been part of the ADAS Yield Enhancement Network since its inception which gives David an insight into his own soils and crops performance and compare them to his peers and to improve performance.
YOUNG AGRONOMIST OF THE YEAR
Sally Cox, Farmacy
In her short career as an agronomist Sally has worked in Australia and then as an assistant agronomist for Bayer before joining her current employer Farmacy as an arable agronomist. Having worked through the Foundation Programme she won the prestigious Barrie Orme shield in 2016. She currently works as a specialist in Omnia Precision Farming. Her current customer base of 30 farmers covers 6,400 hectares in the East Midlands.
AGRONOMIST OF THE YEAR
James Rimmer, VCS (UK)
James started life in farm management in 2007 and tarted to do his own agronomy and found himself doing more and more for local farmers which led to a new career path. In 2016 he started work with CCC Ltd and recently has taken on a new role with VCS (UK) concentrating on vegetable, potato and arable agronomy, with a particular focus on regenerative options.
YOUNG FARMER OF THE YEAR
Gemma Smale-Rowland, South Hellescott Farm
Gemma runs South Hellescott farm in Cornwall alongside her father. The 145 hectare farm supports 120 pedigree Holstein cows. In 2019 she opened a ‘milk vending machine’ to shorten the supply chain and provide milk directly to the customer. After 6 months she already was selling 95 litres a day from the on farm vending machine. She holds a position on the Dairy Crest Direct board, is a leader of Launceston Young Farmers and is the only female on the NFU Dairy Board
SUSTAINABLE FARMING AWARD
Established in 2002 to offer greater economies of scale to local farmers, Wheatsheaf farming is a non-profit contracting business. Variable costs are paid out based on the percentage of land farmed and grain sales are paid out using the same percentage. Regenerative and sustainable practices are at the forefront of crop establishment. IN 2021 the company successfully bid to be the AHDB Strategic Farm for the South enabling to back up its practices with science.
FARM MANAGER OF THE YEAR
David Bell, Fairfield Farms
David runs the 1300 hectare Fairfield farm in Fife. They farm beef sucklers, sheep, cereals, potatoes and peas. With a mixture of land that is occupied through ownership, secured tenancies, contract farming, short duration limited tenancies and seasonal lets, infrastructure us the key to the efficient running of the farm. David is a highly active member of the wider agricultural community. He sits on the AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds knowledge exchange committee, is vice-chair of the local NFU and is a member of the regional and national Combinable Crops board.
CONTRACTER OF THE YEAR
Peter Russon & Son
The Russon family runs four self-propelled forage harvesters across Lincolnshire, working in maize, wholecrop, grass and miscanthus. Mr Russon takes pride in not only offering a high quality of work, but in building a culture within the workforce that takes seriously things that health and safety. The firm has been part of the Assured Land-based Contractor scheme since its inception and has in place health and safety and risk assessment plans to ensure that all staff are working safely. Most importantly, Tim Russon uses his experience across multiple farms to help customers plan ahead and get the most out of their crops.
GRASSLAND MANAGER OF THE YEAR
John Yeomans, Yeomans & Partners
John and Sarah Yeomans run a predominately grassland 118 hectare farm in Powys. It is home to a flock of Beulah sheep and a herd of pedigree Limousin cattle which he supplies to local markets. Farm soils undergo regular testing to identify any specific areas of land which may require supplementary treatments. To prevent the overuse of chemicals John utilises spot spraying of herbicides. Conservation is the key with woodland development to fore to sequester carbon and local beekeepers encouraged to house their bees on the farm.
OILSEED GROWER OF THE YEAR
David has been farm manager for McGregor farms on the Scottish borders since 2008. The farm consists of 300 hectares and a further 3,000 hectares of cropped land on a contact farmed basis. Oilseed rape accounts for approximately 700 hectares in any one year. It is grown once every four years in an 8 year rotation. The aim is to sow it all by the end of August. The key is to establish an even plant stand at the correct count that covers the whole field.
POTATO GROWER OF THE YEAR
AG Wright & Son
With 200 hectares of potatoes grown across differing soil types, AG Wright & Son has overcome the loss of chemicals for potato storage by investing heavily in refrigeration technology. Detail is vital to the crop growing stages, with close attention paid to soil quality through sampling, as well as stale seedbeds and cover crops utilised where possible. Key areas of the business can be monitored remotely for real-time adjustments during other tasks and yield monitoring software helps to inform desiccation times. To improve best practise in the Cambridgeshire area, the firm has also established a farm management discussion group
PROTEIN CROP OF THE YEAR
James grows both winter and spring beans as well as lupins alongside an 80,000 laying hen unit, near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire. The beans average around 4t/hand the lupins 3t/ha. All the produce is stored on-site, from where it is marketed locally. James takes a very regenerative approach to his crop production and rotation policy. The low-pressure approach to rotation means there is less disease and pest pressure. Fungicides and pesticides are only used as a as a last resort.
FRUIT GROWER OF THE YEAR
RJ and HL Hancocks
Robert and his son Henry farm 66 hectares of cider apples and hops in north east Herefordshire. The 50 hectares of apple orchards are planted on east facing slopes so the early morning sun reduces frost damage. The established orchards consistently achieve yields in excess of 20t/ha. They have recently gone down a path of vertical integration and have put in their own cider mill and has started to contract cider production for smaller cider makers in the area.
CEREAL GROWER OF THE YEAR
AH Oliver & Son
Data makes up the backbone of Will’s cereal production with spending of up to £13.20 per hectare on precision technology, as well as monitoring the farms carbon footprint. Half the farm is down to first wheats with the aim of yielding 10 tonnes/hectare. The rest of the rotation consists of oilseed rape, potatoes, winter beans and grain maize. The grain maize helps with the fight against grassweeds as well as ensuring late drilling to minimise disease pressure and improving soil structure by putting organic matter. Rye vetch is isalso used as a cover crop.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Our winner grew up on a 65-acre hill farm in Herefordshire. He recognised that the farm was not going to provide a living for his parents and he decided to invest in a Grimme de stoner and, using his Dad’s International tractor went out contract destoning in the area. From there came a harvester and the journey began. His ‘can do’ attitude, skill, professionalism, and genuine desire to do the best for his customers shone through and over 20 years he created a one stop shop across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and south Shropshire, including contracting services, agronomy, his home HGCA Monitor farm and a machinery dealership. He was always keen to share his knowledge with others, and his passion for the industry never faded, taking an active role as an NAAC Board member and NFU Vice County Chairman when he sadly died in 2020.
He was a real character, with a mischievous sense of humour but gave his everything to the business, with a loyal customer base. He was a respected manager, but also liked nothing more than to be hands on in the tractor seat.
He was a true gentleman and will be missed by all who knew him, but we are delighted to be able to recognise his perhaps unfinished achievements in this Award. He made a lasting impression upon all those he met. He was passionate about farming and was always keen to give back to the industry. For those whose lives he touched they will remember his infectious smile, his banter and his immense enthusiasm.