Farmers Weekly‘s 2020 Awards shortlist is crammed with hard-working, innovative farmers, advisers and students whose vision and drive ensure that the industry is well set for the future.
Our inspirational finalists are at the heart of successful businesses of all sizes across the UK working to put food on the nation’s plates while protecting the environment and engaging with the local community.
A wet winter and the Covid crisis have made this one of the toughest years in recent memory, but these 44 finalists show that no challenge is too great if you have a passion to farm.
Ag Student of the Year
Emily Jones, Herefordshire
Emily’s studies have opened her eyes to farm health and safety issues and she sees a future working to reduce risk.
Rosanna Linkens, Berkshire
New entrant Rosanna is on a mission to educate the public about sustainable food production and the UK’s world-beating welfare standards.
Grace Welling, Hampshire
Inspired to follow in the footsteps of her agronomist father, Grace secured her Apha licence at just 18 and is now preparing for Basis and Facts qualifications.
Arable Adviser of the Year
Charlie Catto, Aberdeenshire
Charlie helps his 49 customers, who farm some 10,658ha across Aberdeenshire, access new technology to improve profits.
Mark Dewes, Warwickshire
Nuffield scholar Mark works across four counties, and uses a risk-share model which helps optimise pesticide use.
Arable Farmer of the Year
William Oliver, Swepstone Fields Farm, Leicestershire
William oversees over 800ha of cropping – including potatoes, wheat barley, oilseed rape, beans and grain maize – and is making full use of precision farming.
Tim Parton, Brewood Park Farm, West Midlands
Tim has adopted conservation agriculture across his 300ha of combinable cropping and haylage, working with biology to improve soil health and maximise profits.
Robert Price, Rooksnest Estate, Berkshire
As well as introducing controlled traffic farming to the 1,700ha arable operation, Robert has overhauled the rotation with a wider range of premium-earning crops.
Beef Farmer of the Year
Andrew Hodgson, Cheverton Farm, Isle of Wight
Andrew turned the problem of being separated from mainland customers into an opportunity by launching a meat wholesale business on the island.
Ian Norbury, Mobberley Angus, Cheshire
Ian runs commercial and pedigree herds, and rents converted farm buildings to local businesses.
James Waight, Sargent and Waight, Wiltshire
James uses his suckler herd to manage the delicate chalk grassland of the Salisbury Plain. The free-draining land means he is able to keep cattle out year-round.
Contractor of the Year
Tom Dirom Agricultural Contractors, Yorkshire
Through enthusiasm and determination, Tom’s man-and-tractor operation has become an eight-person permanent team in little more than a decade.
M Metcalfe & Sons, Silver Hill Farm, North Yorkshire
The Metcalfes have served farmers across North Yorkshire and County Durham for more than 50 years. Careful costings and kit purchases are hallmarks of the business.
P Russon & Sons, New Farm, Lincolnshire
Tim Russon offers a huge range of services, and places an emphasis on high health and safety standards, good staff management and close customer relationships.
Dairy Farmer of the Year
Katrina Dunford, Southwood Common Farm, Somerset
Katrina took on the management of two farms with no experience. She now runs a thriving cross-bred herd, and describes the intervening 10 years as a “roller-coaster’’.
Robert Mallett, Northleaze Farm, Wiltshire
Robert is producing 11,407 litres from grass-fed Holsteins, balancing grazing and buffer feeding to curtail costs while not compromising milk output.
Max Tite, Newmans Farm, Dorset
High herd health drives decision-making in Max’s autumn block-calving system. His achievements include a rolling milk from forage average of 5,930 litres.
Diversification of the Year
Molly Coombs, Grand Get-Togethers, Westfield Farm, North Yorkshire
Using local trades and staff, Molly and family have converted three redundant barns into luxury holiday properties.
Anthony and Christine Snell, British Frozen Fruits, Windmill Hill, Hereford
Anthony and Christine grow quality berries and sell direct to high-end retailers. The business also freezes fruit to manage the supply chain, reduce waste and offer year-round employment.
Alice Maltby, Little Wold Vineyard, Market Place Farm, East Yorkshire
Planting a vineyard on unproductive Yorkshire farmland was a bold move, but its success has secured the farm for Alice and future generations.
Farm Manager of the Year
James Beamish, Holkham Farming Company, Norfolk
Managing a large arable enterprise alongside expanding beef and sheep operations, James has designed a graduate scheme to attract top new talent.
Peter Cartwright, Revesby Estate, Lincolnshire
Peter’s remit includes a large arable operation and deer herd. His focus is on soil health, staff, machinery and costs to prepare the business for reduced support.
Peter Eccles, Saughland Farm, Midlothian
Cattle, sheep numbers and breeding have changed dramatically under Peter’s tenure, which has brought notable improvements in technical and financial performance.
Grassland Farmer of the Year
Sam Carey, Rhiwlas Dairy, Gwynedd
Share milker Sam has lifted grassland production exponentially on this 263ha beef-to-dairy conversion he helps to run.
Sam Chesney, Cool Brae Farm, County Down
Sam has more than tripled grass output to 14.3t/ha since adopting rotational grazing on his 80ha beef and sheep unit.
Lucy and James Muir, New Buildings Farm, Staffordshire
Lucy and James are producing 1,425kg/ha of milk solids on the 420-spring block calving herd they share farm.
Livestock Adviser of the Year
Julian Allen, Friars Moor Livestock Health, Dorset
Vet Julian has helped long-standing clients move to robotic milking, no-soya dairy diets and block calving.
Philip Baynes, Cheshire
Independent nutrition specialist Philip has 40 clients ranging from intensive indoor pig units to rare-breed extensive systems.
Ed Hill, Thrums Vet Group, Angus
Ed is one of only a few vets using lung scanning to help reduce ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma in client’s flocks; he also assists with national control efforts.
Mixed Farmer of the Year
Tom and Julie Davies, Upper Court Farm, Herefordshire
Manufacturing their own-brand feed, Tom and Julie have seen huge business growth on their 600-head beef and arable farm.
Esther Rudge, Ballingham Court, Herefordshire
Aiming to thrive without subsidies, Esther diversified into renewable energy, orchards and glamping on her 170ha traditional beef, sheep and arable farm.
James Small, Warren Farm, Bristol
James’ low-input beef and sheep farm reduces labour per head of stock without compromising welfare, with bulls only in the top 3% of maternal trait EBVs used.
Pig Farmer of the Year
Colin Stone, Wayland Farms, Norfolk
Performance, environmental management and health and welfare are exceptional on this large-scale outdoor unit.
Charlie Thompson, Bridge House Farm, Northamptonshire
This nucleus breeding unit was one of the first globally to EID-tag all pigs from birth to slaughter, enabling monitoring and fine-tuning all aspects of pig production.
Karen and Stephen Thompson, Povey Farm, Derbyshire
This indoor farrow-to-finish unit has high herd health and low antibiotics use. Price volatility is minimised by marketing through an expanding butchery business.
Poultry Farmer of the Year
Phillip Ashton, Gasks Farm, Lincolnshire
Phillip’s 32,000-hen, free-range egg business has an impressive track record of getting top performance from its flocks.
Tom Elliott, Elliott Eggs, East Yorkshire
Tom runs a successful egg producing and packing business with his family, serving customers across Yorkshire and beyond.
Jim and Anne Smillie, Corrie Mains Farm, Ayreshire
Jim and Anne keep 21,000 laying hens on flat-deck systems and market eggs under the Corrie Mains brand.
Sheep Farmer of the Year
Matthew Haydon, JCB Farms, Staffordshire
Matthew manages 2,400 Lleyn ewes on an organic system producing breeding stock and deadweight lambs; 2,000 store lambs are also bought in for Daylesford outlets.
Neil and Debbie McGowan, Blairgowrie
A strong commercial focus drives the breeding and management of pedigree Lleyns and Texels, which are sold on farm. Neil and Debbie also sell lamb direct.
Neil Sandilands, Upper Hundalee Farm, Roxburghshire
Neil has more than trebled sheep numbers over 10 years since starting a share-farming agreement. He sells Cheviot mules and rams from pure Beltex and Texel flocks.
Young Farmer of the Year
Sam Hall, The Homestead Farm, Staffordshire
Sam, 25, runs his own free-range egg business while working full-time managing the dairy herd on the family’s mixed farm.
Bertie Newman, Manor Farm Bungalow, Dorset
Bertie manages a 600ha organic farm with suckler beef herd and North Country Cheviot ewes. As a partner, the 25-year-old has added contracting and a dairy origin beef business.
Adam Walton, Hedgehog Cottage, Norfolk
Pig farmer Adam, 27, took over the family farm when his father died. He has 1,200 sows and is keen on biosecurity, animal welfare and new technology.