Craig Livingstone has been crowned the Farmers Weekly 2018 Farmer of the Year.
Turning around an arable business requires a strong vision and an ability to make bold, radical changes and this has been a key part of Craig Livingstone’s winning formula.
In the three years he has worked at Lockerley Estate in Hampshire, the former agronomist has overhauled the rotation by slashing the oilseed rape area by half, changed the cultivation approach as well as adopting precision technology.
And these bold changes have already paid off, with crop yields rising on the highly variable soils in this corner of Hampshire.
Lockerley Estate, East Tytherley, Hampshire
Wheat is up by a staggering 1.8t/ha and oilseed rape is now approaching 4t/ha. But what makes this achievement even more impressive is that Craig has cut costs during the same period. The cost of growing wheat has fallen by £90/t.
Another striking accomplishment is that Craig has built a very capable arable team through a combination of upskilling existing estate staff and recruiting a new member. His team is highly motivated and are skilled to carry out multiple roles on the estate.
Five things that make Craig Livingstone 2018’s Farmer of the Year
- Strong vision and achieved much in his three years
- Built a strong team, upskilling existing estate staff and recruiting a new member
- Grows good-looking crops and achieves good yields on some very variable land
- Always looking for marginal gains to improve overall performance
- Good public interaction on and off farm
He has adopted precision technology, with P and K fertiliser applied variably, as well as seeding, which has evened up crops.
This belief in the valuable role of technology has also seen him involved in two key projects, one investigating the use of robots and the second a Rothamsted project looking at using satellite data to predict yields.
It’s not just the arable business that has greatly benefited from Craig’s skills – he is doing his bit promoting the industry to the wider public.
Craig is a member of Farming and Countryside Education (Face) and he goes into his local school to tell children about crops. His passion for spreading the word even saw him recently visiting an inner city school in London.
Three years on and the arable business is on a much more sustainable footing, making it better equipped for life after Brexit.
He is so respected in the local community that two neighbours have approached him to farm their areas, using his winning formula.
The Farmers Weekly 2018 Farmer of the Year is sponsored by McDonald’s
“It is clear that Craig has worked incredibly hard to have achieved so much in the past three years. The results on farm are testament to his focus and attention to detail.”
John Park, senior vice-president, chief financial officer, McDonald’s