This year’s Combine Driver of the Year winner is Norfolk farmer Nick Gowing. He grows 1800 acres of arable crops near Mulbarton, Norwich and it’s the first time a farmer has won it after a run of employees.

Mr Gowing has done the farm’s combining for 17 years and his record-breaking achievement took place in the farm’s 25ft John Deere CTS.

The competition is organised by the UK’s best-known combine trainer Tony Gardiner, His company, New Life Training (01379 642661), runs training courses on combine settings, maintenance and driving. A total of 77 combine drivers were trained and assessed last year.

Pre-season training takes place in spring and early summer, Mr Gardiner then visits each driver during harvest and does a two-hour assessment of their technique and machine settings, including how much grain is lost and whether they’re driving at the right speed.

The effect of driver training on the combine’s performance is striking. The average loss per combine went from 256kg/ha before training to just 45kg after training, says Mr Gardiner. That’s the equivalent of saving 23t of wheat each day.

The training also helped improve output by encouraging drivers to boost their forward speed by an average of 33%.