Farmers Apprentice: Search is on for ag’s brightest and best

Whether you’re planning a role in farming, the food sector or one of the ancillary industries, you need a lot of skills to have a truly great career.

The most successful people are practical and commercially astute. They’re good with technology and excited by change. They’re personable and positive.

However many such characteristics you might already have, you can always improve them and acquire more. And there’s no better way to do this than by taking part in the Farmers Apprentice 2020.

See also: Ben Theaker: Farmers Apprentice – laughs, mates and muck

This unique competition sees 10 young people between 18 and 25 years old put through their paces via a series of practical and technical tests in a bid to claim this prestigious title.

Obviously, the farming industry, like the whole nation, is under coronavirus restrictions at present. Providing it is safe and responsible to do so, the shortlisted candidates will be asked to join us later in the year at a residential bootcamp week at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Previous competitors have described bootcamp as a life-changing experience – a chance to learn masses, make great contacts and lifelong friends, and potentially come away with a cash prize.

What is Farmers Apprentice?

It is a competition open to all ambitious 18- to 25-year-olds, who want to pursue a career in farming, food or any of the ancillary industries. Farmers Weekly partners with leading companies to run the initiative. It traditionally culminates in 10 competitors battling it out at bootcamp, which, in 2020, we hope to stage at Scotland Rural College (SRUC) later in the year.

You could win £10,000
Yep, that’s right, the winner of this coveted title will go home with £10,000 to spend on furthering their agricultural education or business. Taking part is invaluable experience, too, and will help you expand your knowledge, hone your skills, improve your CV, build your contacts – and have a lot of fun.

How to enter 
Go to and convince us – in 500 words or less – that we should shortlist you to take part in bootcamp. The deadline for entries is 28 June. The finalists will be notified in July.

Coronavirus situation
Farmers Weekly and SRUC are committed to acting responsibly in relation to coronavirus, so will make a decision nearer time, based on government advice, as to whether it’s safe and responsible to run the bootcamp, which has traditionally marked the culmination of the Apprentice competition later in the year.

Cash prize

This year, we’re offering the winner a whopping £10,000 to spend on furthering their agricultural education or business.

Farmers Apprentice is seeking the brightest and best young talent, and there will be successful and influential people on hand to guide, mentor – and ultimately, judge – those taking part. 

Shortlisted candidates have had a chance to learn from respected people, ranging from former Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year Robert Neill, to senior figures from the companies that Farmers Weekly is partnering with to run the Farmers Apprentice.

Don’t expect an easy time at bootcamp, though. This is a tough, challenging competition, and if you’re battling it out, you could find yourself preparing a presentation at 11pm or fixing a fence before breakfast.

Farmers Apprentice

© Richard Stanton

Task that test

All the tasks and tests will be very much rooted in real life – highlighting the genuine challenges facing British farmers, now and in the future. After all, it’s the next generation that will pick up these challenges.

Across such themes as arable, livestock, diversification, technology, marketing, environmental, financial management and data, competitors will have to think on their feet if they’re going to impress the judges.

Farmers Apprentice

© Richard Stanton

From coming up with meat marketing strategies and flying drones to financial analysis and stock-judging, the Farmers Apprentice tasks have always been designed and delivered in collaboration with experts from across the industry, with the apprentices working individually and in teams.

You’ll be pushed to the limit, mentally and physically. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that the experience has been described as the most gruelling job interview in British agriculture.

We know that no one is good at everything, so if you have zero experience in some areas, don’t worry – it’ll be about how you adapt and learn, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities for everyone to shine.

Tips on submitting a great entry from previous finalists

Tessa Gosney
Farmers Apprentice: TessaFarming isn’t always easy so if you can show you can have a laugh and inject some humour into your entry video, that’s really important. I would also strongly advise filming out on the farm, not tucked away in your bedroom talking about why you’d be a great Farmers Apprentice – get outside and show it!

Libby Ramsden
Farmers Apprentice: LibbyFarming is moving forwards so fast it needs people with new ideas, and who are innovative – so demonstrate those traits in your application. Do something different, something the judges won’t expect.

Harry Madin
Farmers Apprentice: HarryFind something unique that makes you stand out. For the video, get out the house and round the farm – and if you can make it personal and not like you’re reading off a script that’ll go a long way.

Ben Theaker
Farmers Apprentice: BenHighlight what your strengths are, but don’t just say what you’re good at – it’s also important to stress how you’d benefit from bootcamp and what you’re hoping to learn from it. The judges want to see what you’re like as a person, so try to get your personality across. It’s worth watching clips from previous years, as well, to get a flavour of the competition.

Lauren Arndt
Farmers Apprentice: LaurenThink carefully about where you film the video. Choose a quiet place so that your voice can be heard clearly. You do not have to have public-speaking experience, just be yourself and be honest.  Share your aspirations and dreams, demonstrate passion in what you want to do – and don’t forget to smile.

Wannabe farmers welcome

Don’t think either, incidentally, that you need to have grown up in wellies to take part. One of the reasons we ran the very first Farmers Apprentice back in 2012 was precisely to attract people from outside the industry.

This prestigious contest is aiming to encourage the best business minds from all backgrounds to pursue a career in agriculture and focuses on the big issues and the small detail – basically, the whole farm-to-fork agenda, whether that’s strategic considerations such as the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme or practical details such as the best apps for business.

We want to hear from you if you love a challenge and have set your heart on a successful career in farming.

You need an edge to get on in the world these days. Whether your ambition is to have your own business or work for someone else, winning – or even just taking part in – Farmers Apprentice 2020 will give you just that.

Farmers Apprentice is sponsored by:

Massey Ferguson SRUC