Farmers Weekly Awards 2021: Farmer of the Year

Edward Vipond, Troston Farms, Stanton, Suffolk

Edward Vipond is Farmers Weekly‘s Farmer of the Year 2021 and the winner of the Farm Manager of the Year category.

His huge commitment shows in both the margins and technical performance of the four holdings making up Troston Farms.

Strong financial and risk management skills mark him out, with an average gross margin of £943/ha across 1,542ha, and most of the cropping securing added value.

He grows milling and feed wheat, feed and malting barley, milling and feed rye, spring beans, sunflowers and maize for anaerobic digestion, with five-year average yields for sugar beet and winter wheat at 75.65t/ha and 8.82t/ha, respectively.

Five things that make Edward Vipond the 2021 Farmer of the Year

  • His vision, commitment and passion
  • Attention to detail in all areas, in particular financial and risk management
  • Added-value crops, now including sunflowers
  • Proactive approach to agronomy and soil health, running extensive trials
  • Several public-facing roles, including promoting farming interests in schools

Benchmarking shows Troston Farms close to the top 10% for winter wheat, spring barley and sugar beet direct costs, with spring barley and beet yields equalling those of the top 10%.  

Further added value for the 40ha of sunflowers currently grown for supplementary feeding mixes is being explored this year by testing the crop for oil extraction or selling the hulled kernels.

See also: Farmers Weekly Awards: Farm Manager finalists 2021

Change has been a feature of Edward’s six years in the job, with several additions of significant acreages requiring meticulous planning and resource management.

Climate and costs risk have seen oilseed rape, sugar beet and forage rye replaced by lower-risk sunflowers and milling rye on the light land.

Blackgrass and poor soil structure were particular issues. Cover and catch crops have helped improve soil structure and reduced erosion losses, while digestate, a straw-for-muck agreement and pig slurry are applied to maintain soil organic matter. 

Edward runs seed rate, agrochemical, nitrogen efficiency and variety trials, often in conjunction with customers, breeders or suppliers.

The aim is for profit without government support and, while this large arable business may expand further, Edward acknowledges that it could look very different in future, with up to 25% of the land possibly not cropped.

He is taking part in the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot, has two Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship schemes on 80ha and is part of a local cluster group assessing the potential for large areas of land to create habitats for key species.

The three full-time farm staff have seen change too, with a move from salary to wage and overtime, and their inclusion in discussion of business challenges and objectives, breakfast meetings off farm and involvement in the choice of major machinery purchases.

Edward is involved with the Suffolk Show and the Suffolk Farm School Fair and has close links with the local primary school and with a school in Wales for Farmertime.

Farmers Weekly Awards 2021 Farmer of the Year is sponsored by Agrovista

Agrovista logo

Congratulations to Edward on winning this year’s Farmer of the Year award. The focus on improving soil health and structure, combined with on-farm trials, demonstrates a pragmatic approach to improving farm profitability sustainably while managing risk. Agrovista wishes the whole team at Troston Farms every continued success.

Chris Clayton, managing director

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