Farmers Weekly Awards 2006

Adrian Cannon is the McCormick Farm manager of the Year. Here’s why he won:

Committed, passionate, with clear vision and excellent business management, technical, environmental and leadership qualities, Adrian Cannon has shown how the traditional agricultural and sporting estate can thrive in 2006.

Adrian offered our judges the complete package. Excellent technical ability, faultless business management and a passion for
being the best.

Appointed the first farms manager when the owners decided to take the farmland back in hand, Adrian faced a challenge very different from his past on a Norfolk arable farm. He had to start from scratch, developing his own role as he went, acknowledging social, educational, environmental and community responsibilities – and he had to make a profit.

Not a man afraid to make tough decisions, Adrian began an ambitious restructuring process, slashing labour and machinery costs, and finding alternative, diversified uses for marginal arable land.
 
Now the estate has 767ha (1900 acres) of arable cropping and 343ha (850 acres) of grassland supporting 100 Aberdeen Angus suckler cows and 650 breeding ewes.

Embracing new technologies like nitrogen sensors has helped his team to better manage soil nutrients and improve yields. Shifting the farms to a minimum tillage policy reduced soil management problems.

An excellent working relationship with the farms’ owners depends on Adrian’s ability to manage information upwards as well as downwards. His business approach has involved an annually agreed capital expenditure programme with his employers while part of his open leadership approach has been to offer
farm staff empowerment, coupled with training and development.

A former John Edgar Trust management scholar, Adrian has continued his own development, studying for an MSc in rural property management.

Adrian has also shown he is unafraid to cross frontiers. Under his leadership, the farm staff began a big quarrying enterprise. The farms’ Brown and Blue Vein Ironstone is in demand from architects, builders and planners and the business generates sales of £400,000 a year.

Further diversifications such as a simulated grouse shoot demonstrate Adrian’s entrepreneurial flair. He has developed bespoke, local outlets for the farms’ beef and lambs and has forsaken milling wheat production to limit grain miles, building a strong relationship with other, local millers.

FW judges were impressed with the evidence of social involvement and responsibility, with the farms hosting the Great Tew Horse Trials attracting Olympic competitors and a music festival in support of the Countryside Alliance.

Runners up:
• Andrew Robinson, Bedfordshire
This is a big man with ambition to match. That means an annual turnover of more than £200k from 930ha of cropping at Hearne Manor Farm

• Andrew Watts, Wallington Farms, Hertfordshire
Andrew combines a flair for organisation with a sound, traditional touch across a widely dispersed acreage of 2,400ha on Wallington Farms.

Back to full Farmers Weekly Awards 2006 listing