Farmers Weekly Awards Winner: Farm Manager of the Year

It’s hard not to be impressed by the enthusiasm and drive that Matt Solley brings to his role as farm manager for a major contract-farming partnership in Hertfordshire.

He’s certainly not a man afraid of a challenge. Which is just as well, given that at only 29 he has 2250ha (5500 acres) to handle.

Matt’s achievement has been to manage the farming operations of a complex joint-venture enterprise formed by three businesses, to deliver real results in drastically reducing their power and machinery costs. He has responsibility for making sure a profit is delivered within careful and demanding budgetary constraints by three equally demanding partners. Effectively, he’s three businesses’ farm manager.

There’s no mistaking it’s his attitude and initiative that drives him. “It’s a ‘yes’ world we live in. There’s always a way to overcome difficulties if you have the drive and enthusiasm.”

From a family farm in Kent, Matt took a position as assistant manager with Gemmill Brothers, a 1600-acre tenanted farming operation near Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. But when the farm manager left the business, Matt seized the opportunity and convinced the partners he could run it himself.

It was Matt who has since led the establishment of a joint venture parnership to equip the new business, Gilston Crop Management, which saw him raising his hand as the winning bid on a Claas Lexion 480 Evolution combine – a bargain at less than £100,000.

But there were bigger challenges to come. Businessman Gordon Morrison, who owns the nearby Chaldean Estate, was impressed by what Gilston Crop Management had already achieved and joined the partnership. His objective was to reduce power and machinery overheads on his 526ha (1300 acres) and joining the partnership saw these direct costs fall by 30%.

Matt manages upwards effectively too, presenting a convincing business case to the partners for the capital re-investment he needs to ensure the business remains properly equipped to do the job.

Webinar: The right trees in the right places

Register now

Online grain trading made easy with Farmers Weekly Graindex

It takes just a couple of minutes to create a listing on Farmers Weekly Graindex and you’ll get a range of prices to compare from active buyers who want your grain.
Visit Farmers Weekly Graindex