Plumpton College farm manager Daniel Hird has been crowned this year’s Young Sussex Farmer of the Year in the annual Sussex Food & Drink Awards, recognising his passion for agriculture and his farming and people management skills.
Daniel took up his post at Lambert Farm, Plumpton, in April 2017 to oversee a turnaround in its performance, standards and culture.
His remit was to ensure that it delivered the best possible example of farming practice to the community, industry and students.
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Under his management, the farm is now a fully profitable operation as he has embraced new technologies, overhauled all farming enterprises and recruited an entirely new farm team.
Performance is closely benchmarked and is used to drive continuous improvement, while costs are carefully managed to focus on profitability, not just productivity.
In achieving all this, Daniel has had to find a balance between the commercial and educational needs of the college farm.
He has also sought to limit the impacts of the farming operation on the environment, something that has been recognised with Linking Environment and Farming (Leaf) accreditation.
Commenting on the award, which is sponsored by Natural Partnerships CIC in association with Farmers Weekly, chief judge Philip Clarke, executive editor of Farmers Weekly, praised Daniel’s collaborative style and ability to motivate others.
“He came into the farm manager’s job at a difficult time, but has restructured teams and processes to best effect and is a team player who supports his staff in their career development,” he said.
“He is determined to make the Plumpton College farm one of the best in the country.”
Hard work and dedication
Daniel said he was delighted to be recognised, “but more importantly it is great that the hard work and dedication from the farm team is recognised too”.
“We are a large-scale farming business with multiple enterprises and it is down to them that we are performing to the standard we do.
“We take great pride in our work and are passionate that we can influence, encourage and promote the industry to students, while at the same time operate a fully commercial and viable business enterprise.”
The two other finalists in the Young Farmer category were Conor Haydon, who was working at Goodwood Estate, Chichester, West Sussex at the time of the judging before the Covid lockdown, and Dan Wells, who was working at Holmbush Farm, Balcombe, West Sussex.