AJ Duncan, Aberdeenshire
Lower risk, increased efficiency and higher profits – this is the compelling combination delivered by this year’s winning farm manager.
In just five years, Dave Green’s analytical approach and clear thinking have led to some bold decisions. A switch from running 2,400 sows and finishing 24,000 pigs to 400,000 laying hens and 800 dairy-bred bulls came after he reviewed the business on his appointment.
“Dave is outstanding, a true entrepreneur. He has the ability to identify and make the most of opportunities, demonstrated by his approach to the egg, beef and, in particular, the energy enterprises.”
David Gardner, chief executive officer, Rase, and independent judge
Since then the business has grown further, adding both owned and contract-farmed land.
The most difficult decision, he says, was to take the business in a completely new direction, committing it to the £12m investment required for the layer enterprise.
Farm business turnover has risen from £4.3m in 2009 to £11.5m in 2013, when it made a £1.2m profit.
The launch and rapid growth of a separate wind energy business, inspired by Dave, contributes further turnover and profit. There are now six owned turbines and many more planned, some in joint venture with other landowners. Other renewable technologies have been embraced. Dave’s years as farm manager have seen staff numbers rise from 18 to 65 full-time and 35 part-time.
- 2,428ha owned, managing a further 1,618ha for others
- Cereals and oilseeds
- 800 head dairy bull beef contract
- 300,000 colony and 105,000 barn hens, free-range broilers
- 11 rented properties
- Six wind turbines, with more planned, including joint ventures with other landowners
- Takes ambitious but considered decisions
- Ability to manage change on huge scale
- Team development
- Precise monitoring and costing
- Engagement beyond the farm
His decisions have reduced risk and integrated arable and livestock production more closely, with about 85% of the grain grown used on farm, mainly in poultry feed. This reduces exposure to volatile grain markets and saves on feed and fertiliser costs.
Risk in the beef business is minimised by the 800 dairy-bred beef bulls being finished on contract for Scotbeef. Each enterprise is a separate cost centre, with efficiency measured monthly. Feed intake, production and quality of eggs are measured daily, growth rates and bird weights weekly, with profit/loss and key performance indicators for hens done weekly.
The arable equipment is run as a contracting business to the farms, with all operations in-house apart from baling. Every hour worked is accounted for.Environmental measures include more than 40km of hedging, 80ha of tree planting, numerous beetle banks, water margins and buffer strips.
Dave is also responsible for commercial and residential lettings, as well as sites for several new houses. The only decision he can’t make without reference to the farms’ owner Fred Duncan is to sell land.
People are clearly important to him and not just because the oil industry based down the road pays twice what farming can afford. Employees get access to financial information and managers are encouraged to treat their enterprise as their own. Staff are encouraged to follow his lead by constantly asking: “How can we do this better?”
Dave takes his role beyond the farm gate, speaking at conferences, discussion groups and farmer forums.
Young farmers, farmer groups, schools and organisations make regular visits and local fundraisers and amenities are supported.
Joseph Camm Farms, Nottinghamshire
A passion for quality crops, great organisation and customer focus ensure Karl gets the best from his team and the land. He has delivered big improvements in the 1,650ha vegetable, root, and combinable crop business he manages.
Essex Farms, Essex
Seeking to add value in all areas, Keith has managed wide-ranging changes to this 2,566ha arable business, including several external farm contracting agreements. Investment to improve the farm’s infrastructure sees him managing large construction projects, too.
“This year’s winner demonstrates many exceptional qualities. His decisions have increased the profitability and efficiency of the business while diversification has reduced risk. His vision to further expand and diversify is truly inspirational.”
Trevor Tyrrell, chief executive officer