It’s the highlight of the year, showcasing the very best of British farming in a series of stunning photos. With thousands of excellent entries to consider, we enlisted the help of farmer and photographer Heather Ross as our guest judge.
A former winner of Farmers Weekly’s Harvest Highlights photo competition, Heather lives and works on a dairy and arable farm in Warwickshire with her husband and two children.
While not formally trained, Heather has a superb eye for photography. She freely admits to often deserting her post in the milking parlour to run up the field to capture a beautiful sunrise.
Heather has chosen a winner, runner-up and highly commended entry in each of the eight competition categories, chosen from a shortlist complied by the Farmers Weekly team.
The top image from each category was then considered for the “winner of winners” title, which comes with a £250 cash prize.
We will reveal which of our category winners has bagged themselves the big prize on 5 January 2018.
“It has been a pleasure to judge the competition, but it has not been easy. The process of judging was far harder than I envisaged, as the standard of entries was very high,” says Heather.
“I was looking for photographs that have a strong agricultural link that show off our fantastic industry and landscape, and also for pictures that really caught my eye.
“We live and work in beautiful countryside and it’s great to see the animals, landscape, machinery and the people who work in it showcased so diversely.”
Winner: Mark Dall
Mark took this stunning scene of a Massey Ferguson 7616 ploughing up winter barley stubbles at Mawcarse Farm, on the edge of Milnathortin, in Kinross, Scotland on a beautifully bright and cold February afternoon. Behind the action is a snow-dusted Bishop Hill.
Brought up on a family farm, Mark now works with in the landscaping sector.“Photography is my hobby, favourite subject anything to do with farming life, especially tractors and associate equipment,” he says.
Runner-up: Ben Duffin
Nottinghamshire pig farmer Ben Duffin made great use of the drone he bought by capturing sugar beet lifting from the skies.
“I bought myself a drone for work and pleasure,” he says. “I enjoy a bit of photography, so I’m quite often out with the arable boys taking pictures and videos.
“This particular day I had a text from a mate who works for Hardstaffs of Linby. They had some contractors in with two Grimme sugar beet harvesters, so I popped round and got a few snaps.”
Highly commended: Carolyn Tester
This photo is of Carolyn’s son, Steven, ploughing with his County 4000 Four in East Sussex.
“As I left the field I caught a glimpse of him through the gate latch, so waited for several more furrows to be ploughed before getting everything in the right position for this photo,” she says.
Winner: Janet Taylor
Tenant farmer Janet lives on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. It’s the scenery of this gorgeous island that is captured in this photo of Janet’s two sheepdogs, Pip and Breagh, taking in the view.
“The view is looking into Loch Buie, with Ben Buie on the right. Because the animals and views are always so beautiful, I enjoy taking pictures of our farming life, even if it means lugging my camera everywhere,” she says.
Runner-up: Alan Hopps
Dairy adviser Alan was out for a walk on a snowy February morning near Newtownhamilton in Northern Ireland when he took this photo.
“As the sun came up, I liked the shadows coming from the fence posts, the footprints in the snow and the warm glow from the sun in the distance. Well worth getting some very cold fingers for.”
Highly commended: Amy Bateman
This magnificent misty landscape was captured by Cumbrian farmer’s wife Amy, who says she has traded her handbag for a camera bag.
“The mist had settled due to a mild temperature inversion across our farm and I only had a few moments to capture this before it lifted. If you have to work outside, views like this make it worthwhile,” she says.
Winner: Vicky Drysdale
“This picture was snapped on 5 November as we were bringing our sheep down to the pens to remove the Texel tups from the main flock.” says Vicky. “It was a beautiful evening, so I’m glad I had my phone on me to take the picture.”
She lives and works just outside the Lake District National Park with her partner Kieren. They both have full-time day jobs, but have flock of 170 commercial breeding ewes on the family-run farm to keep them both busy in the evenings and on weekends. “We would love to be able to farm full-time one day,” she adds.
Runner-up: Emma Robinson
This charming photo by Emma, who lives in Wootton on the Isle of Wight, was taken while she was out checking on her parents’ small herd of beef cattle during the summer.
Highly commended: Rebecca Adams
Rebecca, aged 20, from Killinchy in County Down, Northern Ireland, loves pigs and says she couldn’t help but take this picture once she I spotted a good photo opportunity.
Rebecca is currently on her placement year while studying animal science at Harper Adams – she’s gaining experience with McDonald’s UK as a progressive young farmer following the pork supply chain from farm to fork.
Winner: Florence Mannerings (photo taken by Philippa Mannerings)
This brilliant photo captures the joy of winning big at a livestock show. Philippa Mannerings took this great shot of her sister Florence hugging her Dairy Shorthorn, Attwoods Tabia, at the New Forest Show this year.
The photo was taken moments after they were awarded the supreme champion dairy title for the first time at that show, having shown there for many years.
“It was a very proud moment and safe to say I was very happy with my girl,” says Florence. “She is my most special cow – she was born on the farm and I have cared for her ever since. She never misses a show season and is a right character.”
Runner-up: Amy Bateman
It’s a double scoop of success for Amy, who also captured this fantastic action shot of her little farmer having great fun on the farm and getting mucky in the process.
“This is my daughter Rosie, who had not yet started school, so would come and help around the farm with me. This day I let her jump in every puddle, much to her great delight,” says Amy.
Highly commended: Donna Ashlee
Here’s three-year-old Emily on her last day of term, taken by mum Donna. She’s an assistant principal at a secondary school in Hythe, Kent, where she manages a school farm.
Her husband is a farmer running about 600 ewes and 45 suckler cows, among other contracting jobs.
“We had gone to feed our rams and the sunset was beautiful. Give Emily a stick and a field and she’ll happily play. I ended up laying on the ground and getting covered in sheep muck to get this photo,” says Donna.
Winner: Gregory Scott
This brilliant shot was taken by Gregory, who has worked for Scarborough Farms in Lincoln since he was 13 years old . He spends a lot of his free time photographing the wildlife on the farm.
“The picture was captured early one morning with me lying in the sugar beet waiting for my subject to come to me – you would be surprised how close they get.
“This particular deer was quite inquisitive and even though it had seen me, it came within 2m.”
Runner-up: Linda Chapman
These boxing hares were spotted by Linda on her arable farm in east Northamptonshire. “We have a very healthy population of brown hares on the farm,” she says.
“Photography is a passion of mine and my camera is never far from my side. Being patient and alert pays dividends in the end if you want to capture those special shots.”
Highly commended: Frances Browne
Wildlife photography is a real passion for Frances – she spends many hours lying in damp ditches and hedges to get close to nature.
“My first shot got four deer staring at me, then five and finally this shot of six that paused for a second to see what I was doing before disappearing over the horizon in the opposite direction,” she says.
Recently retired Frances was an environmental scientist for about 40 years, working with farmers and others in agriculture sector.
Winner: Lucy Young
Here we have Mac the Labrador and Daisy, Apache, Jay and Bruce the spaniels all waiting patiently for lunch at the local shoot to be over so they can get back to work gain.
Lucy picks up at the Birling Estate shoot in Kent with her husband and this fine-looking team of dogs. She has a small flock of breeding ewes and her husband works as an agricultural contractor.
Runner-up: Tess Cadman
Tess, aged 27, from Cambridgeshire took this photo on the first day of harvest at her boyfriend’s family farm in Offord Cluny.
“My boyfriend, Jon Eayrs, is the combine driver and the dog is our Labrador called Poppy,” she says. It’s good to see Poppy keeping an eye on proceedings.
Highly commended: Karen Antcliffe
This photo was taken at Melton country park near where Karen lives in Leicestershire. “While walking around with my camera I spotted this dog swimming in the lake. Once he jumped out he gave an award-winning shake,” she says.
“I love wildlife photography and spend many an hour taking pictures of nature. Farming pictures also bring me great pleasure. It’s my relaxation time.”
Black and white
Winner: Linda Chapman
Northamptonshire farmer Linda took this brilliant shot at the British Percheron Annual Horse Show, which was held on her farm earlier this year.
Linda caught farrier Fred Sampson from Ringwood in Hampshire as he gave a shoeing demonstration. “I always think that when they are burning a shoe onto a horse’s foot the resulting smoke gives rise to an atmospheric photograph,” she says.
Runner-up: Sara-Lee Burton
This image was taken at Brailsford ploughing match, an event that has been going for more than 100 years.
“I was looking at the plots and this scene just presented itself,” says Sara-Lee. She’s from a beef and arable farm in Derbyshire and first fell in love with photography back in 2010.
“I’m always walking around the fields with my camera looking for an opportunity,” she says.
Highly commended: Catherine Andrew
Catherine’s work at Defra means she is constantly out on farms across the country, giving her ample opportunity to take stunning farming photos.
“I feel quite privileged to be able to see places other people don’t, so I spend a lot of time with my camera phone at the ready,” she says.
This photo was taken on a farm in Derbyshire. When Catherine entered the field this young bull was staring over a post-and-wire fence, looking longingly at the grass on the other side.
Winner: Sophie Huntley
Sophie, aged 15, from Hanging Langford, Wiltshire, first took photos in this style for a school project. She loved the look of them so much that she decided to take some more.
The photo is of her sister Imogen holding Sophie’s horse called Jet. To take this photo they walked to the top of a hill as the sun began to set behind it so that there was nothing other than the sunset in the background to make the silhouette stand out.
“I liked this style of landscape as it is a bit different and stands out compared with a standard landscape photo. I enjoyed taking this picture, as I normally only take pictures of livestock.”
Runner-up: Erica Smith
This very energetic trio of lambs has been dubbed “the Three Musketeers” by Erica, who is 16 years old and comes from Staffordshire. She is currently in her first year of studying agriculture at Reaseheath College.
This photo is of her three kade lambs in the garden from this year’s lambing season.
Highly commended: Amanda Beckett
No prizes for spotting the odd one out in this great photo taken by 16-year-old Amanda from County Armagh, Northern Ireland. She calls this shot “Holstein v Jersey.”
“I live on a family run dairy farm running all pedigree Holsteins, bar the Jersey in the photo. It captured her personality perfectly, that she’s not scared to stand up to the bigger cows and extremely head strong,” says Amanda.