The 2021 Farmers Weekly Awards finalists have been chosen. Read on to find out more about the 44 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, 7 October.
See also: Keep up with the latest Awards news
Ag Student of the Year
Chloe Gimson, Starvegut Hall Farm, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Chloe is passionate about promoting British farming through her work with Ladies In Pigs, and is using her agriculture business management studies to help her family farm thrive.
John Halton, Moat House, Castletown, Meath
Determined to run his own organic dairy herd in England after studying agriculture, social-media-savvy John educates consumers about farming in Ireland with his engaging videos.
Jessica Langton, Northgables, Aldercar Lane, Derbyshire
Strong business acumen and a keen interest in bovine genetics at the University of Nottingham is fuelling Jessica’s mission to carve a sustainable path for UK dairy.
Arable Adviser of the Year
Ed Brown, Bridgnorth, Shropshire
Ed is head of agroecology at HL Hutchinson, specialising in a range of agronomy services, including soil management, crop nutrition and helping clients transition to agroecological farming systems.
Mike Harrington, Ginge, Oxfordshire
Mike is managing director of Edaphos, an agronomy consultancy he set up with a strong focus on improving soil health and reducing inputs.
Kieran Walsh, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
An independent agronomist working for Velcourt Advisory Services, Kieran also managed the agronomy for the Hands Free Hectare project and now its successor the Hands Free Farm at Harper Adams University.
Arable Farmer of the Year
Andy Barr, East Lenham Farm, Maidstone, Kent
Andy is a regenerative agriculture pioneer who started out 20 years ago. He is now seeing real benefits from improved soil health on the 430ha of combinable crops he manages, including milling wheat and malting barley.
Simon Best, Acton House Farm, Poyntzpass, Newry, County Armagh
Simon has overseen the transformation and expansion of Acton House Farm from a mixed system to one that is predominantly arable focused, with 465ha of cropping including wheat, oats, barley, oilseed rape and beans.
Stephen Briggs, Whitehall Farm, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Stephen grows 110ha of organic crop, including oats, and has seen yields rise by 25% over the past 14 years. He is also using technology, including GPS-guided weeders, and has adopted controlled traffic farming.
Beef Farmer of the Year
Aled and Iwan Evans, Rest, Whitland, Carmarthenshire
Since starting their business six years ago, the Evans brothers have honed efficiency and grassland management on their 630-head dairy and beef-finishing enterprise. They also run 700 breeding ewes and finish store lambs.
Mark Jelley, Perkins Lodge, Daventry, Northamptonshire
Losing 28 cows to TB four years ago made the Jelley family ditch a flying herd policy. Stabiliser bulls now breed replacements from a 95-cow suckler herd, and beef finishing runs alongside an arable unit.
Ian Norbury, Mobberley Angus, Knutsford, Cheshire
Ian has grown demand for beef and genetics from his herd of 115 Aberdeen Angus spring-calving cows. A grass-based system has cut costs and he has started looking at outwintering youngstock to increase profits.
Contractor of the Year
HC Beales Agricultural Contracting, Crown Farm, Great Ellingham, Norfolk
Route plans, field maps and harvest packs ensure HC Beales gets the best from a 30-strong team during peak periods, and strict maintenance records help keep kit in tip-top condition.
A&R Fraser Contracting, Braeside Farm, Shaftesbury, Dorset
Brothers George and Jonathon have propelled the family business into a new age of farm contracting. A strong focus on regenerative agriculture has eased customers’ transition to zero tillage, reduced chemical and fertiliser inputs, and improved yields.
Mill ‘N’ Mix, Dochcarty Road, Dingwall, Ross-shire
John Fraser’s 40-year-old family business specialises in mobile feed processing. With 429 active customers spread across a 60-mile radius, the company takes enormous pride in the quality of its work and customer service.
Dairy Farmer of the Year
ET Larwood & Sons, Oak House Farm, Larling, Norwich
The Larwoods milk 250 Holsteins and calve year-round, averaging 10,450 litres at 4.4% protein and 3.32% butterfat. Pregnancy rate averages 32% and transition cow health is exceptional.
George Lester, Manor Farming Company, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
George milks 186 Holsteins through robots and achieves 37.6 litres a cow a day. He has lowered his feed rate to just 0.32kg/litre, saving £30,000 without impacting yield.
Janette and Richard Thornton, Heathtolt Farm, Horsham, West Sussex
The Thorntons run an autumn-calving herd of 200 cows, averaging 9,300 litres, with good herd health contributing to healthy profits and strong herd performance.
Diversification of the Year
James Alexander, Balado Airfield, Lincot, Hilton of Burleigh, Kinross
Farming on the disused Balado airfield inspired James to set up a one-stop aviation and activity centre, with aircraft hangars, a viewing gallery, cafe and commercial lets.
Edward Burman, Hemp Whole Foods, Kingstanding Farm, Beausale, Warwickshire
Growing and processing hemp has allowed Edward to create a business selling direct to consumers that complements his mixed farm, while reducing inputs and targeting net-zero carbon.
Alison and Fergus Younger, Old Leckie Farm, Gargunnock, Stirling
After taking over the family farm in 2012, Alison and Fergus have built up a thriving online shop delivering their produce to 225 households on a weekly basis.
Farm Manager of the Year
Tom Chanter, FWS Carter & Sons, Woodbury Salterton, Exeter
Labour and machinery efficiency have been improved by Tom in the arable and beef business he manages. Better grades are being achieved for 3,500 cattle finished annually, with further value added by selling more through the farm’s shop.
Jake Freestone, Overbury Enterprises, Overbury, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
Jake has moved a 1,600ha combinable crops and sheep operation to a regenerative system. Proud of the increased biodiversity he has achieved, he aims to introduce more livestock and is a prominent ambassador for farming.
Edward Vipond, Troston Farms, Park Farm, Stanton, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Wholesale changes to rotations and machinery policy have been made by Edward on the 1,542ha farm to address poor structure across soils ranging from clay to sand. Reducing risk is a focus, especially on the light land.
Grassland Manager of the Year
Bill and Suzanne Harper, Trepoyle Farm, North Tamerton, Cornwall
Bill and Suzanne are developing a low-fertiliser grazing system with rotational grazing for suckler cows, dairy calves and a flock of Lleyn ewes on their farm in the Tamar valley.
Mark Housby, Peepy Farm, Bywell, Northumberland
Farm manager Mark has overseen a whole-farm grass reseeding and grazing infrastructure programme for the reintroduction of dairy cows to Peepy Farm, which is part of the Allendale estate.
Richard Rogers, Bodrida Farm, Anglesey
Richard runs three spring-calving, grass-based dairy units with a total of 900 cows and a team of six staff. Two-thirds of annual average yield (5,349 litres a cow) is from forage.
Livestock Adviser of the Year
Mike Bray, Kite Consulting LLP, The Dairy Lodge, Dunston Business Village, Dunston, Staffordshire
Mike works with 35 dairy businesses to advise on all aspects of production, from genomics through dry cow management to early calf nutrition. He has a specialist interest in progressive US barn systems of milk production.
Rachel Hayton, West Hill Barns, Evershot, Dorchester, Dorset
Rachel is a senior clinician and shareholder of a major veterinary practice. She is the primary vet for six dairy clients, offers a mastitis consultancy, is involved in research and training, and is a member of a number of industry bodies.
Ian Ohnstad, The Dairy Group, New Agriculture House, Blackbrook Park Avenue, Taunton, Somerset
Ian is a dairy husbandry consultant with an interest in milking systems, and advises on the interaction between the milking machine, the milker and the cow. He is involved in a number of national and international associations.
Mixed Farmer of the Year
Carlisle family, Rowles Farm, West Ilsley, Berkshire
The family-run farm incorporates 700 breeding ewes, 600 purchased hoggs, 50 store cattle, a range of arable cropping, with a new vineyard planted for the first time this season.
Huw and Meinir Jones, Bryn Farm, Cardigan, Ceredigion
Huw and Meinir pride themselves on the development of a regenerative beef and arable system. A focus on grassland management using no artificial fertiliser yields more than 11t/ha of dry matter.
Paul Temple, Wold Farm, Driffield, East Yorkshire
The shift to conservation agriculture is cutting overall nitrogen use by 25% across Paul’s beef and arable farm, where chemical sprays are being reduced to maximise the efficiency of soil biology.
Pig Farmer of the Year
Ryan Dyer, Hall Farm, Thetford, Norfolk
Hall Farm is a 1,200-head outdoor sow herd, based near Thetford, Norfolk, sitting on 48ha (120 acres) of rented land from a local arable farmer. Ryan produces 1,900-2,000 piglets every three weeks for the BQP/Pilgrims UK supply chain.
Richard Mellor, Grange Farm, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Grange Farm is a 990-sow outdoor unit run on a two-week batch production system. Pigs are weaned at five weeks and are moved to BQP growing farms for the BQP/Pilgrims supply chain. The unit is run as the main enterprise on a 145ha council farm that Richard secured seven years ago.
Justin Willoughby, JH Norman and sons, Bicester, Oxfordshire
Since joining Park Farm in 2012, pig farm manager Justin has implemented changes leading to weaned pigs per sow increasing by 30% and the sale of pigs almost doubling. Significant cost savings have also been made.
Poultry Farmer of the Year
Nick and Maria Davis, Usk Vale Poultry, Pontypool, Monmouthshire
Usk Vale Poultry started out supplying turkeys for the Christmas trade, but has expanded to include broilers and a slaughterhouse to process other farmers’ birds. New technology has also helped improve efficiency.
Craig Michie, Barra Bronzes, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire
Free-range, slow-growing turkeys are the mainstay of Craig Michie’s business, targeting the Christmas and Thanksgiving markets. More than 3,000 birds will be fed a home-produced ration to contain costs, while strong branding benefits margins.
Len and Pete Olds, Cornhill Farm, Camborne, Cornwall
Len and Pete Olds keep about 13,500 free-range laying hens in four flocks with an emphasis on high welfare. There is a strong focus on marketing since the business elected to break away from a national packer last year.
Sheep Farmer of the Year
Alwyn Phillips, Pen Y Gelli, Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Alwyn has been performance-recording Texels and Poll Dorsets for more than 40 years. Basing his breeding decisions on a grass system results in functional rams fit for the commercial realities of sheep farming.
Tim White, Maiden Bradley, Warminster, Wiltshire
Tim applies the motto “genetics not cosmetics” to managing his Exlana flock, using hard data to make breeding decisions. He is achieving a 20% year-on-year growth in ram sales.
Young Farmer of the Year
Benjamin Clappison, Cowlam Grange, Driffield, East Yorkshire
Benjamin, 24, is a partner in his family’s business. Having worked as a farm mechanic in Australia, he is keen on new technology and finding diverse income streams.
Dafydd Edwards, Groesasgwrn, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire
Dafydd, 20, has returned to work on his family’s dairy farm after completing an agriculture degree. He does his own artificial insemination and foot-trimming, and has started a fencing business.
Harriet Ross, Newseat of Drumbreck Farmhouse, Ellon, Aberdeenshire
Harriet, 29, runs an arable and pig business on a tenant farm. She is in the process of taking on her parents’ farming business and is also a full-time consultant.
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