21 December 2001

Glittering prizes galore…

Its Christmas all year round for farmers weekly readers. We

surprised ourselves when we added up the value of prizes

readers unwrapped this year. The total topped £101,000

IMAGINE stepping out on Christmas morning to find a new £21,000 feeder-wagon parked in the yard – and all paid for. Or, perhaps youd prefer a big cheque to spend on anything you like?

farmers weekly has given away scores of prizes this year. The idea was to bring happiness and hope to all our readers at a time when the farming and other news has been so grim. Most FW competitions, however, have a hidden bonus.

It is to help producers become more aware of information and techniques that will make their farming more efficient, safer, and more profitable. We believe the value of those potential benefits exceeds the immediate value of the prizes themselves.

So, even if you were not a competition prize-winner this year, youll almost certainly have gained in some other way.

Lets look at some of the prizes that went to make the staggering total of well over £101,000 given away in 2001.

Winter warmers

Among the earliest of the annual competitions was the Gamekeeper of the Year award, run in association with the CLA Game Fair. Prizes included £500 cash, hip flasks and a Musto jacket, all totalling about £700, were used to urge the best gamekeepers to compete for an even bigger prize – recognition of their professional prowess in a highly skilled and technical business. This years winner was Tim Potter. Wendy Cummins and Steve Reynolds were the runners up.

Transports of delight

No less than three readers won in the 2001 FW/Suzuki competition. Tim Inman took delivery of a Suzuki Quadmaster worth £6344, while John Parker and Mary Carr each won £955 junior-sized Suzuki LT50 ATVs.

Arable pace-setter

How cheaply can you grow a tonne of wheat? That was the key question behind the FW/BASF Unit Cost Challenge, and in 2001, as in previous years, it resulted in a close-fought struggle between Britains best growers. Winner Mark Means carefully vetted answer was an amazing £24.89/t for all inputs and operational cost, but excluded overheads. Mark took the prize of £2000 worth of agrochemicals, while his agronomist, Mike Harrison of Farmacy, won a £500 holiday voucher. Whats more, if our reports helped UK producers to shave just 1p/t off the growing cost of all cereal crops, it would add up to a £250,000 bonus for UK cereal growers.

Grassland spring flush

The March announcement of the FW/WestMac disc mower competition brought a touch of cheer for livestock farmers at the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis. Shropshire farmer Mike Downes collected his £3555 prize in August.

Fertile ideas

`One of farmers weeklys longest-running competitions, the FW/Nitram awards, sponsored by Terra Nitrogen (UK), covers both livestock and arable sectors. The over-all winner collected a cheque for £2000 and the runner up pocketed a £500 cheque. This years winner was Charlie McCririck (pictured), with an arable farm on the banks of the Tweed, near Kelso. Runners up and livestock section winners were Ralph and Anne Gott, with their son Christopher, who farm by the River Severn in Gloucestershire. Judges pondered the attributes of the contestants economic, agronomic and environmental policy.

before making their decisions.

&#8226 Gamekeeper of the Year award, run in association with the CLA £700Game Fair

&#8226 FW/Suzuki competition, three ATVs £8254

&#8226 FW/BASF Unit Cost Challenge £2500

&#8226 FW/WestMac disc mower competition £3555

&#8226 FW/Nitram awards, sponsored by Terra Nitrogen (UK) £2500

&#8226 Hozelock professional knapsack sprayer competition £1650

&#8226 FW/DuPont Sugar Beet Grower Challenge £1000

&#8226 Farmlife Brabantia competition, postboxes and newspaper holders £768

&#8226 Three-day cheesemaking course at the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co £329

&#8226 FWs Harvest Hotline, cash thank-you, from Monsanto £500

&#8226 Farmlife student writers competition £700

&#8226 Biggest single prize, Keenan Klassik feeder wagon competition £21,000

&#8226 FW/PBIC Monsanto Wheat Grower Challenge 2001 £2000

&#8226 FW/Quality Quest competition, in collaboration with Sinar, £3070grain monitoring equipment

&#8226 FW Farm Inventions competition in association with Barclays Bank £3600and the Royal Smithfield Show

&#8226 Morso Panther Clearheat Convector competition, three stoves £3405

&#8226 Spot the danger competition, top cash prize and Britax flashing £2160beacon runner up prizes

&#8226 Farmlifes Eddie Stobart book offer £5600

&#8226 FW/Taarup Feeder Competition, offering KD 612 £19,500

&#8226 FW Photo competition £600

&#8226 Farmlife straw sculpture competition £250

&#8226 FW/Nuflor from Schering Plough competition offering Ritchey £10,000Tagg livestock weighing equipment

&#8226 Farmlifes hotel breaks, donated by Stephen Purdew £6000

&#8226 Farmlifes next generation survey £450

&#8226 Farmlifes Veronica Frater Memorial writing contest £400

&#8226 Farmlifes Christmas childrens art competition, toboggans worth £590

&#8226 Farm Personality of the Year Awards, food hamper £200

Grand total £101,281

Floods of winners

Fifteen Hozelock professional knapsack sprayers, worth in total £1650, were the August fruit of an April competition. There was a massive response to this contest, with winners from throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Best for beet

Tim Stokes, winner of the FW/DuPont Sugar Beet Grower Challenge, was hotly pursued by two other worthy finalists. But Mr Stokes was the judges choice for all-round production, and took the £1000 cash prize and trophy. Top yield was not the sole criterion. The high-powered panel looked for appropriate inputs, low overhead costs and environmental responsibility. Any of the three farms, details of which were published in our reports, provide good management and best practice role models for committed growers.

Postie pleasers

Eight farming households will no longer risk rain-sodden mail or incoming cheques being banked in the dog. Smart Brabantia Prisma postboxes, worth £80 each, and eight £16 newspaper holders went to lucky winners of the Farmlife Brabantia competition on Jun 8. Entrants merely had to give the new name for the Post Office and mail their entries back.

Winning words

FWs Harvest Hotline helps grain growers throughout the UK keep tabs on progress, and it couldnt be done without contributions from farmers. A £500 cash thank-you will go from Monsanto to the farmer providing the best harvest summary. Judging result to be announced shortly.

Cheese please

Farmlife winner Mel Sanders, from Higher Lazzard Farm, Liskeard, Cornwall, won a three-day farmhouse cheesemaking course at the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co.

Biggest single prize

Topping this years sack full of goodies was a £21,000 Keenan Klassik feeder wagon, which must have had winner Richard Mycock, who farms near Buxton, Derbys, thinking Christmas had arrived in September. That was just one of many competitions for monster prizes during the year in which readers answered simple questions posed in successive issues of FW. This prize also included full nutritional support for the winner from Keenan specialists.

Rush for crushes

Five livestock producers, John Fisher, Jonathan Williams, Marion Muir, Adam Sills and Robert MacKintosh will each be benefiting from handling cattle through Ritchie crushes, prizes in the FW/Schering-Plough competition. Entrants had to consider questions on controlling calf scour.

Wizard wins £2000

In a year when wheat yields and profitability slumped for many growers, farmers in England and Scotland vied with one another to prove their systems were disaster-proof. In the end, it was David Hinchliffe, farming in East Yorks, who triumphed in the FW/PBICMonsanto Wheat Grower Challenge 2001. He collected an expenses-paid study tour worth £2000 to see what quality standards overseas buyers are looking for.

Student writers

Farm students Charlie King and Kate Oleszko (pictured) each won £50/month for regular College Calendars throughout the academic year. Total value to them was £700. Look out for their warts-and-all portraits of student life featured in Farmlife in the New Year.

Tabs on quality

Grain in store was the focus of the Quality Quest competition run by our Arable section in collaboration with Sinar and linked to the autumn Grain 2001 event. Grain monitoring equipment worth £3070 was shared between the winner and two runners-up. It consisted of a DryPro in-drier moisture analyser to help fine-tune drying. Two Grain Spear moisture analysers for in-store checking went to runners-up.

Hot inventions

Nine farm inventors have scooped £3600 in cash prizes for their winning ideas judged in the FW Farm Inventions competition in association with Barclays Bank and the Royal Smithfield Show. Now in its tenth year, this competition averages 100 entries a year, and many have gone on to make big money for their inventors from ideas that benefit practical farmers.

Warm feelings

Three Morso Panther Clearheat Convector 2140 stoves with a total value of £3405 were earned at the drop of a slogan from winners M Pagett, J Felgate and E Nellis. "Styled for beauty and made for duty," said the winner. Another entrant suggested: "I need something sexy, warm, and good-looking".

Spot the danger

This competition, designed to increase awareness of everyday farm safety hazards, rewarded 21 winners. Entrants had to scan a Tebbit cartoon showing some common and, subtly, some less obvious farm hazards. To match the importance of the subject, first prize was £1000 in cash. That was backed by 20 runner-up prizes of Britax flashing beacons giving a total value of £2160. Over-all winner was John Tripconey, Helston, Cornwall.

Feeder number two

Still to be judged is the FW/Taarup Feeder Competition, offering another diet feeder, the built-to-last, low-maintenance KD 612. Its worth all of £19,500 and despite its name, its an all-British built machine.

Picture this

FW readers all benefit from our annual Photo competition. Every year it produces stunning, poignant and amusing images of the industry. Six prizes of £100 and £10 for any other picture published go to genuine, amateur farm photographers judged the best. Share our enjoyment of the pictures when we publish the best of them early in the New Year.

Straw artists

Farmlife invited farmers, their families and friends to get creative with straw bales and to photograph the results. The idea was to boost awareness of the British Farm Standard logo by incorporating it in the design. A prize of £250 went to the winners, Jemma Cradock, her family and friends.

Stobart spotters

Another competition to tug at the heartstrings was an offer from an anonymous sponsor with a terminal illness to provide 500 free copies of Only the best will do, the Eddie Stobart story. About 800 copies were distributed.

Plenty to weigh up

Another competition still in the pipeline is the £10,000 FW/Nuflor from Schering-Plough competition that will see eight farmers receiving vouchers for Ritchey Tagg livestock weighing equipment. It is timed to coincide with the season of peak risk from calf pneumonia.

the competition is based on questions, published issue by issue, focused on key aspects of pneumonia recognition and control.

Feel-good factor

One of the most luxurious offers this year was open only to farmers who had stock culled due to F&M. Stephen Purdew, of Springs Health Farm, generously donated 10 two-night breaks for people who had been battered by the crisis. The offer was worth £6000.

Youngsters look ahead

As the year closed, we invited the potential next generation of farmers, aged 16-30, to complete a survey of their attitudes to a life in the industry. There will be a draw for winners from a total £450 prize fund.

Writer and puzzlers

A Farmlife regular is the Veronica Frater Memorial contest for amateur writers. A prize of £300 will be awarded to the writer of the best true or fictional story, with two £50 prizes for runners-up.

Kids get festive

A Farmlife favourite around Christmas is a seasonal art competition for children. It is no easy task for the judges, who this year will consider pictures on the theme of Christmas dinner. Ten winners will each receive a toboggan worth £59 supplied by Super Tramp.

…and whats more

&#8226 British farming needs heroes and we invited you to help identify them. A £200 food hamper was the top prize in this competition which asked readers to nominate their hero and explain their choice

&#8226 F&M prevented the completion of the prestigious Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year, sponsored by Syngenta. Eight finalists will go forward to 2002 to compete in the final stages for the £2000 top prize.

&#8226 So, what else is lined up for next year? Were already planning dozens more super surprises. Look out for next years star prize of a £38,000 McCormack tractor.

&#8226 We will also be giving away three £2500 computers plus many more valuable prizes.

&#8226 If you looked at this years winners and thought you can do better, why not try your hand? Anyone can win. The odds are far better than the National Lottery. &#42

"WEVE done a few competitions before, but this was a totally unexpected win," said Richard Mycock, Hayward Farm, Wormhill, Derbyshire. He started using the Keenan Klassik feeder wagon he won for his 178 cows during the last week in November, replacing a simple forage box on which the farm previously relied. "Keenans nutritionist came and sorted us out, and its going well. The milks already gone up."

FOR David Hinchliffe, Wheat Grower Challenge winner, his prize was almost a bonus. "It was a good competition, and I enjoyed the judging, especially the discussion with the judges," he said. "The family and I enjoyed our day at Monsanto headquarters in Cambridge, too." Hes planning to go to Portugal or Italy next spring, courtesy of sponsor PBIC.

GAMEKEEPER of the Year Tim Potter got such a buzz from the competition he says hed like to be involved in future judging. Mr Potter and his wife were treated handsomely at the Game Fair award ceremony, he said.

"I really enjoyed the whole thing. Its amazing the amount of people who must have read about it. I could count on the fingers of one hand the people who dont mention it when they come to a shoot." He says there are many visitors to Toddington Manor Estate. "Of course, I now get a lot of leg-pulling if anything doesnt go right on a drive," he admits, cheerfully.