It’s the perfect way to end the year, celebrating the beautiful British countryside and farming’s unique diversity in a series of fantastic photographs.
With almost 6,000 brilliant photos submitted this year, the panel of judges (which included me) were at FW Towers had a long and difficult task.
We’ve whittled your stunning snaps down to a winner, runner-up and highly commended entry for each of the eight competition categories.
The top shots from each category will be considered for the grand prize of £250 and the coveted crown of “winner of winners” – this will be revealed in the next issue of Farmers Weekly (3 January 2020), so be sure to grab a copy to head online to find out who has bagged the top prize.
But that’s not all. Such is the impressive standard of images shared by our readers this year, we’re pleased to be awarding bonus cash prizes of £150 to overall second place and £100 to the third-placed entry considered for the “winner of winners” award. Call it an extra Christmas treat for our loyal FW fans.
We’d like to thank every single one of our readers who entered the competition this year – we were truly astounded by the standard of your photos.
We know you will love seeing these outstanding farming and countryside photos as much as we have.
A word from community editor Oli Hill
Wow! What a vintage year 2019 has been for Farmers Weekly‘s long-running photography competition.
This has been my third year of leading the judging of these hugely popular awards, and each year the standard has risen to an astonishing new level.
What makes this competition so amazing is the range of photos entered from right across the British Isles – from golden harvest shots and cute farm pet snaps, to dramatic scenes of farmers and livestock battling the elements, and incredible landscapes showing the raw beauty of our countryside.
In a time where agriculture is the unwarranted target of so much negativity in mainstream media, it’s images like the ones you’ll see in this competition that speak the truth about the mad, trying and wonderful work of Britain’s farmers.
This busy silaging scene was photographed by farmer’s son Olly Hopkinson, who is from a mixed farm on the Monmouthshire/Gloucestershire border but now lives in the Scottish highlands.
This photo shows Cracknell Contracting picking up lush, sun-drenched grass on the double near the edge of the Severn estuary.
“I worked for a local contractor, as seems to be a rite of passage for a lot of farmers’ sons,” he says.
“On a rare day, when I managed to finish at a sensible time, I found myself wondering what the rest of the team were up to, not wanting to miss out and with the strangely addictive need to chase the forager about.
“As it was rare to have the opportunity to take pictures, I thought I’d better make the most of it – I think Jimmy, the forager driver, did too.”
Serial farm kit snapper Will Jones took this amazing star-spangled shot. He had just finished a long day of drilling winter wheat in mid-November when he noticed the sky was crystal clear.
“I love starry sky photos as anyone who follows my Instagram will know, and I’d been experimenting with long exposure shots to try and get some more interesting shots than just your standard one stood in a field,” says Will.
“I thought it looked cool, and I nearly always carry my camera and tripod with me to try and get high-quality, day-to-day photos for my followers to see what I get up to.”
The tractor is a Claas Xerion 5000 with a Horsch Sprinter 12m drill in tow, taken at Flawborough Farms in Nottinghamshire.
Machinery and photography fan Colin Ryan did a great job of capturing this aerial combining shot with a difference using his drone.
This photo shows the Case combine harvester of TM Graham and Partners hard at work. To take this eye-catching image, Colin used a long exposure setting the give the impression of the machine motoring along.
“This takes a lot of practice to match the speed of the combine to get a clear photo,” he says.
This charming photo is the work of sheep farmer and part-time vet assistant Ruth Cockrem, who lives near Whitby with partner Pete Welford and their two daughters, Eve and Amy.
While checking her sheep one summer’s evening on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, Ruth waited patiently with her camera to grab this shot which oozes character.
“When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time at home with my camera and our various pets,” she says.
“We have 100 sheep and this photo was taken one evening during our evening check. I just watched patiently to see what would happen and was really chuffed with the lamb jumping.”
These muddy Tamworth pigs were photographed from an interesting angle by the aptly named Megan Hogg.
This wonderful shot proves beyond all doubt that there’s nothing happier than a pig in mud.
Megan’s parents run a contracting business from their farm in South Wales, and they keep Tamworth, Oxford Sandy and Black and Kune Kune pigs.
She also runs a flock of Beulah sheep, breeding Welsh Mules and selling them as yearlings.
“I took the picture over the summer when I spotted one of the sows trying to cool off. She got all of the piglets out of the waterhole and jumped in herself,” says Megan.
Another livestock entry which the judges loved for its personality. Jackie Nash got this brilliant shot of Vanquish, the Coloured Ryeland ram, proudly sitting down to survey the scene at Dunster Show near Exmoor.
Jackie and her family don’t have a farming background, but that hasn’t stopped her 10-year-old son, Thomas, building up a small flock of pedigree Coloured Ryeland sheep which he loves showing, and has enjoyed plenty of success as a young handler.
“Vanquish is a gentle giant and has won many rosettes this year in the aged ram category,” says Jackie. “He was sat waiting to go home after a busy show day.”
Olly Hopkinson scoops a second category win. He impressed the judges with this Scottish forest scene, complete with crisp, autumnal colours and a Belted Galloway cow and calf.
“Having moved to the highlands recently, Belties are not cattle I have come across particularly often, but I have always thought they were quite attractive,” says Olly.
“One evening after work, while walking the dog and hoping to catch up with some rutting stags, I caught a glimpse of this cow’s ‘belt’ through the trees with a calf in tow.
“So I decided to lie on the floor, with Ben Rinnes and the spectacular autumn colours behind her. Although the light was being to fade, making the camera struggle, this was the result.”
This chilly landscape was snapped by Richard Smith, a hill farmer based in the heart of the North York Moors in Farndale.
The image was taken at feeding time, during the depths of a harsh winter.
“The silage racks are in the next field and I just happened to be at the right place to take this photo, which gives the impression that the sheep are queueing patiently,” says Richard.
We all know that early starts are much more appealing when you’re treated to spectacular views, such as this.
Zoe Davies took this photo while getting the cows in for milking and setting grassland breaks in Anglesey.
“On this fresh morning in August, the cows were on their way to the milking parlour and I was then setting up electric fences for the next grazing,” she says.
“I am not an early morning person, but seeing these sunrises makes it a little bit easier, and gives you a good vibe for the day ahead.”
This beautiful photo of puppy Susan sat in a Land Rover was taken by Ruth McCracken from Northern Ireland.
Photographing the animals on her family’s farm in County Down has been Ruth’s hobby since she started taking pictures of her pet lambs a decade ago.
“I was checking on a flock of older ewes and had to leave young Susan behind,” says Ruth.
“I had my camera with me to take some pictures of the ewes for my blog. As I walked back to the Land Rover, Susan was sitting adorably in the passenger seat, waiting for me to come back.
“I took a few shots, adjusting my position until I had created a frame for Susan using the window, while including enough detail so it was clear that she was sitting in our faithful old Defender.”
Farm dog Ralph is the star of this photo, taken by former photo competition winner Heather Ross on her farm in Warwickshire.
“Ralph is our much-loved farm collie with a lot of character,” says Heather “I caught him jumping through some barley straw this summer – the straw had been down for weeks as the weather was very catchy.
“I enjoy playing with different camera techniques and liked the fact I got some movement in the photo.”
This farm feline photo was taken by Victoria Dimond, who farms near Mark in Somerset. Blue, the smoky grey cat, was captured inspecting the quality of this year’s hay.
This wonderful shot of a hare about to nibble a wheat plant was taken by Sue Cross on her arable farm, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
After injuring her back last year, Sue took up rural photography as a new hobby and her main passion is capturing the wildlife on the family farm.
“Hares are my favourite subject,” says Sue. “I spend a lot of time with them, and have learned the field craft over the past year to get very close, which takes time and patience.
“Once in the company of a brown hare, you are rewarded with their incredible behaviour. This was one of my favourite shots, captured cheeky nibbling away at the wheat ears.”
Heather Ross scoops a second commendation in this year’s competition with her eye-catching representation of one of the smaller creatures on her Warwickshire farm.
The insect perched neatly on the barley awns is framed beautifully by the glowing blood-orange sunset.
“I took this photo while chasing combine photos at harvest time,” she says. “I took it on my zoom lens and it took a lot of trial and error to line the bug up with the sunset, thankfully, it was a very patient bug.
“I really enjoy sunset and sunrise photos as the light is just great.”
Dartmoor farmer Mary Heard took this delightful photo of a rather sleepy-looking barn owl.
“We consider ourselves privileged to have rare glimpses of amazing creatures like this barn owl, as well as kingfishers, woodpeckers, deer… the list goes on.
“Nothing is more rewarding than seeing these creatures choose to live alongside us as we farm, which is why I have a huge passion for trying to photograph them.”
Mary farms with her husband on a beef and sheep farm. She takes her camera almost everywhere in case a photo opportunities crops up.
Black and white
The stunning portrait was taken by farmer’s wife Clare Wigfield from Wiltshire. This photo is of her friend, Michael Golden, after he spent the day driving his classic Field Marshall in a tractor run at the Berwick St John Country Fayre.
“Our friend and neighbouring farmer, Michael, has a passion for steam engines and old tractors,” says Clare. “The photo was taken at the end of a charity tractor run raising money for the Stars Appeal at Salisbury Hospital.
This stunning tree silhouette shot is the work of Sarah Bolton, from Waddington in Lancashire. Sarah farms in the Ribble Valley with her partner, running breeding ewes and dairy heifers.
“I took the photograph while on sheep rounds here on our farm on a frosty winter morning,” she says. “The sun was behind the trees and I couldn’t help but notice the amazing shadows it created.
“I’ve recently been appointed ambassador for NFU Lancashire, and appreciate how farming has shaped our iconic and treasured landscapes.”
Paula Cooper’s entry shows partner Barry’s Farmall M classic tractor from the 1940s. It was on show at a local ploughing day in West Norfolk.
Photography is a hobby in her spare time for Paula, who works as an animal health and welfare inspector.
This action shot by Katie Chippendale perfectly captures the intensity of shearing. It shows shearer Shaun Hodgson toiling away on Katie’s dad’s dairy, beef and sheep farm at Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria.
“I managed to get a few shots in-between wrapping fleeces,” says Katie.
We love the ewe in the background looking on at the fleece-removal process.
This year, Katie and her partner, Richard, achieved their dream of having their own farm, where they keep sheep, Aberdeen Angus cattle and also rear Wagyu calves.
Natalie Northway took this clever shot of her daughter, Poppy King, as they watched dad Sam complete the final day of the 2019 harvest campaign.
“Photography is very much a hobby for me and I use my iPhone, as i always have it to hand. As you can see, Poppy loves getting involved and isn’t worried about a bit of mud.”
The photo was taken on the farm near Newbury in Berkshire, where Sam, her partner, manages a large farming and contracting business.
A heart-warming photo taken by Donna Ashlee. It shows her husband and contract shepherd, Paul, and five-year-old daughter Emily checking the late lambing ewes over the Easter weekend in Kent.
“Emily and Paul were looking out over the flock remaining to lamb. To get a better angle, I got down low as I liked the crook being silhouetted against the sky,” she says.
Their farm is at Great Chart in Kent, and this photo was taken near Tenterden. Donna works as an assistant principal at a secondary school.
Young photographer (under 16s)
Chloe Gibson snapped this excellent close-up shot of a hungry ewe mid-chew on her family farm in the Lake District.
“This sheep was cautiously munching away as I carefully crept up so that I could get a closer photo,” says 15-year-old Chloe.
“I took this photo on a walk one day. I thought it would be the perfect moment to capture a photo of this sheep.”
Callum Dewar, 12, took this marvellous photo of a Highland cow and calf on his family’s farm, near Stirling.
“This photograph is of Fudge and baby Fudge,” says Callum, who got into photography about eight months ago after his mum asked him to take some snaps of their cattle.
“Fudge was the first addition to the Witches Craig herd three years ago, and now we now have around 30.
“I have learned a lot reading photography books and just experimenting with my camera.”
Next-generation farmer Lucy Hall photographed her gorgeous springer spaniel, Sally, sat in a field of lush red clover.
The 14-year-old lives on a farm in Dilwyn, Herefordshire, and hopes to get into livestock farming once she’s a bit older.
“My weekends are spent between helping Dad outside with the cattle and riding and handling my horses,” says Lucy. “I took this photo in one of the silage fields that had gone to seed on the farm.
“I ventured out with my sister, Beth, and our crazy spaniel, Sally, and took my Canon 1000D camera and a bag of dog treats.”