Farmers Weekly Awards 2016: Farm Adviser of the Year

Jamie Gwatkin Consultancy


A diversity of businesses, a commitment to his clients and an analytical approach to problem solving are among the qualities that make Jamie Gwatkin stand out from the crowd as an agricultural consultant.

Jamie Gwatkin

© Tim Scrivener

The list of demands on Jamie’s time is a long one, as he seeks to service his pig, arable and dairy clients, as well as groups of farmers sharing machinery, lifting sugar beet or supplying anaerobic digester feedstocks. He is also involved in six joint ventures.

Business structure

  • 60 retained customers covering pigs, dairy and arable on 50,000ha
  • Runs two sugar beet groups and an AD feedstock group, coordinating deliveries
  • Involved in six joint ventures     
  • Specialises in strategic advice and business restructuring

But if you had to pin him down on one speciality, he would cite it as “business strategy” – helping individual businesses improve profitability while meeting the objectives of the owners.

See also: 2016 Farmers Weekly Awards: Farm Adviser finalists revealed

 “I appraise businesses by looking at the core activities and then break them down into their constituent parts so I can see what is performing well and what is struggling,” he says.

“I also ask if there are ways we can add value.

“My clients know they can ring me at any time and I will talk through their issues immediately.

“I do all the work myself, so I am always familiar with their business affairs. I also have a low cost base and therefore keep my fees below my competitors.”

Having studied agriculture and farm management at Seale-Hayne, Devon, Jamie’s career started with RH Mason & Partners in Hampshire, before he joined Andersons in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where he worked for 15 years before branching out on his own.

He has about 60 retained clients who he advises on farm performance, developing farming operations with the aim of making them profitable without subsidies.

Jamie also has a strong track record in machinery joint ventures, with the aim of cutting costs to release capital for other investments.

“Most farmers will be able to tell you the cost of their fertilisers or sprays, but they have no idea about their machinery costs,” he observes.

But perhaps his most innovative work has been in the establishment of two sugar beet groups and an anaerobic digester feedstock group.

Winning ways

  • Determination to find business solutions for his clients
  • Innovative approach to problem solving
  • Available 24/7 to service client needs
  • Commitment to continuous professional development

The beet groups, which produce more than 200,000t of beet from 70 growers supplying British Sugar’s Bury St Edmunds and Cantley factories, were set up to maximise harvesting and haulage efficiency, achieved by allowing heavy land growers to lift crops earlier, while compensating light land growers for delaying harvest.

The Cantley beet group has also signed a contract with the Biocore AD plant at nearby Ellough to supply 35,000t of energy beet, 25,000t of maize and 10,000t of rye.

The tight terms of the contract drawn up by Jamie ensures payment upfront for the group’s 36 members, worth an additional £420,000 over the processed beet price.

Despite having a direct involvement in numerous businesses, Jamie is quick to recognise his own limits. “You can’t be an expert in everything, so I will tell my clients when I reach the edge of my expertise.”

However, he is always developing new skills, as well as keeping up to date through his involvement with the Institute of Agricultural Management, which includes continuous professional development.

Sponsor’s view

K&N logo“Providing quality advice for farmers is essential to the success of our industry. Jamie has shown innovation and enormous professionalism in developing his business, and we congratulate him on this achievement”

Stuart Staples, UK technical crop nutritionist, Bunn Fertiliser (maker of Koch Advanced Nitrogen fertiliser)

See more