The 2023 Farmers Weekly Awards finalists have been chosen. Read on to find out more about the 45 innovative farmers, entrepreneurial contractors, expert consultants and hard-working students that made our shortlist.
The judging starts now, and the category winners – as well as the overall winner of the coveted Farmer of the Year Award – will be named at our ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House hotel on Thursday 5 October.
Ag Student of the Year
1. Harry Davies, Hopes Ash Farm, Herefordshire
Harry balances responsibility on the mixed family farm with strong academic results and public outreach initiatives.
2. Isla Soutter, Yew Tree Farm, Leicestershire
Isla embraces every opportunity and overcame many challenges to set herself in good stead for a career in agriculture.
3. Oliver Stephens, Brindely Avenue, Buckinghamshire
New entrant Oliver has gained practical experience that complements his exceptional academic results and in-depth agricultural knowledge.
Arable Adviser of the Year
4. Neil Harper, Agrii, Kent
Neil has trebled his agronomy advice service to 6,000ha since joining Agrii in 2015. Farm trials, benchmarking and data analysis deliver strong results for clients.
5. Todd Jex, Agrii, Wiltshire
With a focus on sustainable and regenerative systems, Todd’s integrated agronomy service covers 9,000ha.
6. Merfyn Parry, ProCam County Crops, Denbighshire
Merfyn, who specialises in technical agronomic advice for combinable and forage crops, conducts more than 60% of his business in Welsh.
Arable Farmer of the Year
7. James Alexander, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
James manages 730ha of conventional and organic cropping, specialising in reduced tillage on the conventional side, growing wheat, malting barley, oilseed rape, oats and barley.
8. Emma and James Loder-Symonds, Nonington Farms, Kent
The couple employ regenerative techniques across 1,400ha of wheat, oilseed rape, barley and oats, with an emphasis on profit rather than yield.
9. Neil White, Greenknowe Farm, Berwickshire
The family-owned business grows wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape and beans across 238ha. Neil focuses on reduced tillage, soil health and profit without subsidy.
Beef Farmer of the Year
10. Ian Farrant, Underley Farm, Herefordshire
Sustainability dictates all management decisions in Ian’s 650-head dairy beef finishing enterprise. His home-grown weaned calf ration saves 51p/kg on bought-in concentrates.
11. Llion and Sian Jones, Moelogan Fawr, Conwy
Breeding for fertility and strict culling have seen upland farmers Llion and Sian nearly halve the calving period in their 110-cow Stabiliser herd from 16 weeks to nine.
12. Terence Pye, Leven Fields Farm, North Yorkshire
Terence produces breeding stock from a grass-fed herd of pedigree Salers. Regenerative grazing has helped eliminate chemical fertiliser and sprays.
Contractor of the Year
13. AJ Heywood & Sons, Springfield Meadow, Cornwall
Bold investments in forage harvesting and slurry spreading technology, plus an in-house mechanic to minimise servicing and warranty costs, have helped AJ Heywood become a one-stop farm contracting shop.
14. AJ Luke Contracting, Barrow Hill Farm, Somerset
A close relationship with customers, carefully calculated machinery investments and a keen eye for detail are hallmarks of Ashley Luke’s Somerset-based, spraying-focused contracting outfit.
15. AWSM, Lane Head Farm, Yorkshire
The AWSM business covers a 200-strong arable and AD plant customer base. Job documentation and staff management is simplified via bespoke smartphone apps.
Dairy Farmer of the Year
16. William Baillie, Hillhead Farm, South Lanarkshire
Milk from William’s 400 housed cows, producing 11,452kg, is increasingly sold direct. Genomics, multicut silage and benchmarking are driving performance, alongside connecting with his consumer.
17. Josh Fincham and Lauren Pincombe, Hampreston Manor Farm, Dorset
New entrant Josh contract farms and owns 25% of his 270-cow herd, which calves in a nine-week block, grazes for 310 days, and produces 6,500 litres – 55% from forage.
18. Andrew Gilman, Statfold Farm, Staffordshire
Data-driven management, technology and research are behind sustainable business growth for tenant farmer Andrew. His 300 Holsteins average 10,528 litres on three-times-a-day milking.
Diversification of the Year
19. Johnny and Clare Clapp, Red Linhay, Devon
Alongside their arable and beef enterprise, Johnny and Clare have built up a business park, commercial lets, an AD plant and straw pellet business.
20. Philip Latham, Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre, Cheshire
Dairy farmer Philip has established a fully integrated equestrian centre with both indoor and outdoor arenas and a café.
21. The Suggitt family, Cakes Hill Barn, Norfolk
PlantGrow, launched in 2015 by Steve and wife Sarah, produces natural fertilisers and garden composts via anaerobic digestion.
Farm Manager of the Year
22. Ray Beck, Welbeck Estates Company, Nottinghamshire
Ray has overseen a move to min-till, which has improved soil health, profit and biodiversity. While maximising yields on reduced inputs, he seeks to add value wherever possible.
23. Tom Deards, AJ & CI Snell, Herefordshire
Integrated pest management, new technology and improved produce quality have been introduced by Tom, who manages 250 staff to supply conventional and organic soft fruit nationwide.
24. William Haupt, Woburn Farms, Bedfordshire
William has expanded his acreage with contract farming agreements, and streamlined both equipment and data. Environmental schemes add value alongside investments.
Grassland Manager of the Year
25. Henderson family, Seafields Farm, Newry
Using multispecies swards and paddock grazing has seen the Hendersons grow 13t/ha dry matter for their 300 lowland ewes and 90-head dairy beef enterprise.
26. John Ritchie, Montalt Farm, Perthshire
Rotational grazing has improved lamb and beef output on reduced inputs to 526kg/ha liveweight under John’s stewardship.
27. JG Waterhouse, Fourth Milestone Farm, North Yorkshire
Grassland management is the foundation of this profitable 350-cow spring-calving dairy, where focus is placed on soil quality and drought-tolerant legume mixes.
Livestock Adviser of the Year
28. Georgina Doel, Garston Vets, Somerset
A cattle healthcare programme launched by Georgina has seen big improvements in lameness and calf health. The independent vet practice also provides care to the nearby Longleat safari park.
29. Alan Mason, CRV, West Midlands
Alan offers comprehensive breeding advice to help dairy farmers improve milk yields, hoof and udder health, fertility, longevity, and feed efficiency.
30. Sara Pedersen, Farm Dynamics, Vale of Glamorgan
Sara has helped drive improvements in cow lameness, has tackled digital dermatitis and is working on a new cattle foot-bathing product.
Mixed Farmer of the Year
31. Matthew and Dani Blair, Thrimby Hall, Cumbria
These first-generation tenant farmers run 420 beef cattle and 1,000 ewes. Keen to champion the industry, the pair have featured on the BBC’s This Farming Life.
32. Craig and Claire Grant, Kindrought, Aberdeenshire
Craig runs 250 bulling heifers, 600 ewes with 1,150 lambs at foot, and an arable enterprise across 320ha. Some 160,000 hens also produce about 1m eggs each week at peak lay.
33. Annabel and William Hamilton, Bee Edge Farm, Berwickshire
Annabel and William help manage the family arable and beef enterprise. The home farm finishes 300 beef cattle a year, and 1,100ha of cropping is spread over 10 farms.
Pig Farmer of the Year
34. William de Feyter, Green Farm Livestock, Norfolk
Technology monitors pig health and water consumption for this outdoor nursery set up on rented sites using second-hand tents.
35. Guy King, GSK Pigs, Dereham, Norfolk
Seven outdoor breeding units at GSK have recently been repopulated and switched to five-week weaning, and grass leys have improved soil condition across all nine sites.
36. Frank Tobin, Brandy Wharf Piggery, Lincolnshire
This 1,300-sow indoor unit using Danish genetics takes pigs to bacon weight and supplies high-health F1 gilts. Local ingredients are sourced for an on-farm mill, and intakes are monitored by computer.
Poultry Farmer of the Year
37. Nigel Edwards, Court Barns, Herefordshire
More than 200,000 broilers are grown in four sheds for Avara Foods, and the farm is consistently in the company’s top 10% for crop performance.
38. Chris Forster, Greengill Foot, Cumbria
Some 658,000 broilers are reared across two sites for Hook 2 Sisters, with an emphasis on improved welfare and reduced use of antibiotics.
39. Herb Fed Poultry, Shires Farm, North Yorkshire
Both meat chickens and Christmas turkeys are reared free-range over 26ha on a diet that includes herbs to enhance flavour and bird health.
Sheep Farmer of the Year
40. David and Cora Cooper, Tardoes, Ayrshire
First-generation farmers David and Cora have built a flock of 3,400 ewes and 700 hoggs on 2,000ha of rough upland grazing, using native Herdwick and Welsh Mountain breeds to help direct sales.
41. Alan Derryman, Home Farm, Devon
Tenant farmer Alan runs a low-cost outdoor lambing system with 900 New Zealand Romney ewes and 80 Stabilisers on 250ha.
42. Dan Phipps, Godolphin, Suffolk
Dan manages a high-output flock of more than 2,000 Mule and Suffolk Mules across 1,000ha of post-and-rail paddocks and 500ha of training ground.
Young Farmer of the Year
43. Luke Conway, Seaham, County Durham
Luke, 24, has reintroduced cattle to the family farm after a 35-year absence and established a flourishing pumpkin business.
44. Reuben Powell, Newbridge-on-Wye, Powys
Having set up his successful broiler business during the pandemic, Reuben, 25, has also taken over his family’s diversification, the Welsh Sheeptacular.
45. Hannah Reddaway, Lower Yetson Farm, Devon
Establishing a boxed meat business on her family farm has enabled Hannah, 30, to find a direct route to market to help mitigate basic payment cuts.