Farmers Weekly Awards 2019: Farmer of the Year

Andrew Robinson is the 2019 Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year.

Great team spirit, genuine involvement of his staff and fantastic arable results are among Andrew Robinson’s many winning achievements in his years at Herne Manor Farm.

A smart and keen approach benefits not only the farm business he manages, but many others through his extensive trials work.

Andrew has much to be proud of, including consistently high wheat yields. Group 1 yields have risen by 31% under his management, to a five-year average of 11.29t/ha (2014-2018), with 95% hitting full milling spec.

See also: Farmers Weekly Awards 2018: Farmer of the Year

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson © Tim Scrivener

Andrew Robinson

Herne Manor Farm, Bedfordshire 

Five things that make Andrew Robinson Farmer of the Year 2019

  1. Impressive attention to detail in crop production, with consistently high yields and full-spec milling quality
  2. Income generation and soil organic matter improvement from composting business
  3. Great attitude to staff management, involvement and motivation, including students
  4. Impressive farm trials work, including insistence on total independence
  5. Hosts many visitors to farm, whether farmers or wider public, and also presents and talks to non-farming audiences off farm

A dramatic reduction in blackgrass has been achieved in his years at the farm and cabbage stem flea beetle is being successfully managed.

There is no doubt that his two full-time employees, Matt Fuller and Sam Edmunds, push him and the business along, says Andrew.

They are both hugely enthusiastic about new technology and methods. Matt and Sam also play a crucial role in making the four annual harvest students a real part of the busy team.

Worker safety and inclusion are clearly important priorities, as is risk management, with a measured approach to grain marketing. 

Andrew is also particularly proud of the farm’s extensive trials operation. Fiercely protective of their independence, he and his team planned and implemented 60 trials of between 0.23ha and 31ha for this year’s harvest.

All counts and records are carried out and maintained by the farm team, to ensure independence.

The main impetus for such extensive trials is Andrew’s drive to get the best from the farm and to be in a position to adopt new varieties or techniques that will show a benefit as early as possible.

Keen to share that knowledge, he opens the trials sites to other growers. In addition, he is developing better farmer-to-miller links, giving several talks and hosting visits with this objective in mind. 

Within weeks of Andrew’s arrival at the farm, its composting business was massively expanded, so it now takes about 12,000t/year of local authority green waste, earning a decent income as well as playing an important part in soil improvement, along with sewage sludge.

He is also vice-chairman of his local grain group and has hosted farmer group visits from several other countries, as well as many school visits, local groups and young farmer events.

The 2019 Farmers Weekly Awards Farmer of the Year category is sponsored by Agrovista

agrovista logo“Andrew demonstrates all the skills of a great farmer – fantastic physical and financial results, a motivated and involved team, precision in all areas, along with a clear approach to risk and an infectious enthusiasm.”

Chris Clayton, managing director, Agrovista

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