The team behind Muddy Machines has almost tripled in size and has been invited to Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister since winning Agri-Tech Innovator of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards.

Without a shadow of a doubt, opening the door to connecting with farmers has been the most overwhelming plus point of winning a British Farming Award for the team behind Muddy Machines. Co-founder Florian Richter remembers the early days of the company – started in the basement of an East London flat during the Covid-19 pandemic – when he would look on Google Maps scouting for farms to talk to about his innovative ideas. Florian says: “With my German accent and random way of approaching farms – along with the pandemic – it is a credit to the agricultural community that I was always so warmly welcomed. “Everybody I spoke to in those early days was so open and welcoming, often sharing sensitive data with me about things such as industry costs. “However, I must say that winning the British Farming Award made connecting with farmers so much easier. “Being recognised with an industry award gave us the credibility that now means people are approaching us, rather than me going onto Google Maps to try and find farmers to talk to.”


Florian and his co-founder Christopher Chavasse started Muddy Machines in 2020. At its core is an awareness of labour shortages, while at the same time being mindful of increased pressure on farmers to produce food sustainably. The team was invited to the recent Field to Fork summit in Downing Street, hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to throw the spotlight on agriculture and its current challenges. Florian says: “The key message we spoke to the Prime Minister about was Government funding for innovation. More specifically, to help to make sure great ideas do not end up in what we call the ‘valley of death’ – the space between pilot stage and then actually generating revenue. “It is no good giving grants at design stage but then not following them up with support to take it to the next stage. So many innovations run out of steam before they actually get the chance to start making money. “Investors are not risk-takers by nature and farmers are no different. If they can see, feel and touch a machine, there is every chance they will get behind it. “But without being shown how a machine works, they will, quite understandably, keep their money in their pockets.” When they received their British Farming Award last year, Florian and Christopher had teamed up with large-scale vegetable business Cobrey Farms, Herefordshire, to build small, lightweight electronically powered harvest robotscalled Sprouts.Field tests have now been completed and the Sprouts have been proving their worth in the commercial harvesting of asparagus.


Heavy investment has been needed to develop the Sprout, with funding kicked off with £1 million raised from private investors and a further £2m received from winning four Innovate UK grants. Florian says: “It was through our contact with Defra and our applications for Government funding that we were invited to the Field to Fork summit. “Asparagus was the obvious first choice to aim the Sprout at, with it being one of the most labour intensive crops, harvesting daily throughout its 12-week season. “The whole idea of the Sprout was built up around the acute labour shortages that farming is experiencing. “My co-founder Chris is a robotics engineer and we learned about crops rotting because there was not the staff to harvest them. “The fact that 60 per cent of production costs are labour was very much at the top of our list of problems to solve.

“We are now starting to trial courgette harvesting and other possibilities include broccoli, cauliflowers and runner beans. “Looking to the future, there is scope for the Sprout to be used for weeding, to reduce chemical
usage, in addition to harvesting.” Rather than selling the machines, Muddy Machines aims to hire them out to growers, with a payment based on a per kg harvested basis. Florian says: “This makes sense as the asparagus season is very short. Who would want to invest so heavily in equipment which was not required for the other nine months of the year? “It is far better if we can collect it and then, for example, put the courgette harvesting
tool on and send it on to work with another farmer. “The motor and all the fundamentals of the robot remain the same. It is just the harvesting tool which changes. This also ties in with our sustainability ethos.”


From its humble basement beginnings, Muddy Machines now has a team of 17 staff, split between working in hardware, such as mechanics, electrics and engineering, and software elements, like computer vision and image recognition. Florian says: “I sometimes look around at all the people who now work with us and it still makes me very proud. In such a short space of time, I feel we are making a very real difference and an important part of our story was winning the British Farming Award, which gave us that credibility and line of communication with the agricultural industry.” The Sprout harvester uses cutting edge artificial intelligence to measure every single spear, cutting the ripe ones delicately while avoiding the immature spears, leaving them behind
for another day.

Yields can also be predicted and reported to growers as it measures everything it sees through the use of 3D cameras and a host of other sensors and algorithms avoiding obstacles and hazards in the field.

''The fact that 60 per cent of production costs are labour was very much at the top of our list of problems to solve''
Florian Richter


Muddy Machines does not blame Brexit for the current labour shortages which were the problem robot Sprout was designed to help solve. Florian says: “As a German, there is plenty I could criticiseBrexit for. But the fact is other countries are struggling to find adequate labour, not just the UK. “Canadians are feeling it, along with Americans and Mexicans. Pretty much all over the world agriculture is not managing to recruit the workers it needs. “People not wanting to work in agriculture, especially doing labour-intensive jobs, such as harvesting vegetables, is a global problem, not an exclusively British one.”


This award recognises the accelerated growth of an exciting sector which is providing a wealth of support and solutions to farming practices. You do not need to have an agricultural background but you will be helping farmers and/or industry professionals find solutions whether that be through increasing crop yields, streamlining data, improving animal health, reducing waste or lowering carbon footprints to name but a few.


For more information on the category and the British Farming Awards, visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk


The Wells family epitomise the definition of multi-tasking. Being enthusiastic about the farming industry and the positive opportunities it offers are indicative measures in the diversifications they pursue.

The team at South Brockwells Farm might have diversified in multiple ways, but they all have one core aim at the centre of it all and that is to safeguard the farm’s future for future generations. Each diversification – from the farm shop to the new educational initiative – is inextricably linked and their collective vision to merge them as one circular business is exemplary. Run by husband and wife team, Arron and Chrissy Wells, sister Sarah, their daughters, Lucy, 14, and Daisy, 11, and family friend Caroline Tasker, farming remains at the heart of the enterprise.

They have refined the system and even matched livestock to their specific land in order to streamline and become as efficient as possible. Established in 1976 by Chrissie’s parents – who still participate in the running of the business – the farm now manages 180 sheep, beef, goats, asparagus, a livery, a cross-country and equestrian events venue, a farm shop and a butchery. Branching out into education, they more recently launched a new farm school and operate a mobile farm. Chrissy says: “Working on East Sussex clay, we have adapted what we do to make the most of our land. We rear and grow what works in our environment and we have done well. “As it becomes increasingly challenging to earn a living through traditional farming, other avenues must be explored and we are proud of our farm. It may be small, but we pack a lot into it and our animals
give a lot back.”

Such achievements and diversity saw them win Diversification of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards. The team play to their strengths, with Chrissy heading up the livestock, Arron is a joiner and manages all the maintenance and butchery of the meat, while Sarah takes the lead in the farm shop. Caroline joined the business in 2022, taking on the equestrian events and leading on the farm school activities. Chrissy says: “Our team are innovative and creative and we plan ahead and have embraced diversification in a sympathetic way to also suit the animals.”


Venturing into working with schools has brought with it immense reward and a different dimension to the farm’s achievements. Chrissy says: “We are immensely proud of the farm and the animals. We know we are lucky to live and work in this environment and are keen to share that with others. “We want to be the best educational farm visit for children to learn how farming impacts on their lives. We want our pork to be the best and we want our lambs to be in the best condition and our animals to be happy and healthy.”

Success can be identified in a variety of ways at Brockwells. For the livestock, Chrissy has won numerous awards at the South of England Agricultural Society. She says: “Having that recognition has cemented our belief on how well our flock does on our land and how the breeding programme has produced good quality sheep and goats.” On the equestrian and events side, the calendar is packed full of events, which see hundreds of riders
attend each one. Chrissy says: “Our social media is also overwhelmingly positive with feedback from happy customers. “When Caroline joined and we launched the Farm School and Mobile Farm, we have since improved the school attendance for some children, learners’ behaviour and attitudes have improved and their well-being has improved. “Other professionals regularly report back on the positive impact our farm school is having on these children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Chrissy, who undertook CEVAS training, is keen for the Farm School and Mobile Farm to continue and increase their potential. As director of the school, Caroline spent a decade working as teacher, senior leader and deputy head in a large, mainstream secondary school in an area of significant deprivation. Children are encouraged to improve their soft skills, such as resilience, motivation, self control, confidence and work ethic, which are inevitably vital to their well-being, academic success and ability to achieve in later life.

''Our team are innovative and creative and we plan ahead and have embraced diversification in a sympathetic way to also suit the animals''

Chrissy Wells


  • Minimise chemicals used on the land
  • Pigs are fed on asparagus trimmings to avoid waste
  • Rainwater is harvested and used to water polytunnels and pumpkin beds
  • Schoolchildren who visit the farm are educated on recycling



STUDENTS can be referred to the school if they are facing challenges including:

  • A lack of engagement in school
  • Low attendance and attainment
  • Poor mental well-being and self-esteem issues
  • Anxiety
  • Underdeveloped life skills
  • A lack of pro-social behaviours
  • A pattern of negative relationships with adults and peers



Chrissy says: “Mental health and well-being has become increasingly important. We all know Covid-19 has thrown challenges in all sorts of ways to everyone, especially children and young people. “The need for support for children is increasing daily and we have the skills and tools here to support, but our biggest challenge currently is ensuring the working farm is safe and accessible for children and young people to access.”

Another key area of attention going forward is increasing the profile of the business and keeping footfall coming through. As testament to this, Chrissy is developing a marketing strategy to promote the farm, including applying for grants, working with the press and working with British Eventing to further develop the cross-country course to host competitions. Speaking of their determination to secure the future of the farm for the next generation, Chrissy is optimistic her daughters are keen to pursue the family’s legacy. She says: “Our daughters are integral members of the team. They go above and beyond daily are already accomplished horsewomen in their own right, have encyclopaedic knowledge of the farm and are my right-hand women during lambing season.

“The girls have every opportunity to follow in the family farming footsteps and identifying opportunities is something the family knows only too well.”


This award is to respect the fact farm businesses no longer just operate behind a closed gate, as farmers look to add value to their enterprise, regardless of the size and scale of your business. You might be operating
within agri-tourism, food and drink production, leisure, retail and/or events to name but a few. Adding value to your core business will be at the heart of your diversification to help support the longevity and success of the farm in the future.


For more information on the category and the British Farming Awards, visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk

2022 Case Study: Farmers Guardian Farming Hero

Lancashire dairy farmer Tom Pemberton was one of the first young farmers to become a social media influencer. Sharing his farming life with what is now a global audience, he continues to promote the industry and embrace new opportunities which have since come his way.

Tom Pemberton epitomises how to bring everyday farming to the masses and capture their attention through the power of digital media. From a typical young farmer going about his daily business on his family’s dairy farm, the 30-year-old shares his highs and lows ‘and everything in-between’ with people around the world – and they cannot get enough. Having amassed more than 500,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel – Tom Pemberton Farm Life – he regularly generates multi-million views on his dedicated vlog. From the turnout of his cows to grass to dealing with hoof health and yard jobs, his no-nonsense, warts and all content and signature Lancashire drawl have also sparked huge followings across social media, especially through Instagram and TikTok.

There is even chance to buy Tom Pemberton official merchandise. So how does a sixth generation, traditional dairy farm in a seaside town become a YouTube and social media sensation? After returning home from the Royal Agricultural University to work on the 101-hectare (250- acre) farm in Lytham, Tom was inspired to create a video in 2016 about the farm’s newly installed milk vending machine and the virtues of drinking raw milk. At the time, it generated just 12 views. But, thanks to a combination of his infectious enthusiasm and irrepressible passion for farming, his twice-weekly updates now regularly go viral. His video about building a high-tech scratching brush for his cows has currently been seen 8m times alone. He is usually found marching around a mud-ridden landscape with a GoPro and drone, articulately telling viewers about the stories happening at Birks Farm, along with much-loved banter with his dad Andrew, who is affectionately known as the Ginger Warrior.

Most do not realise how difficult [producing our food] is and I am not talking about long hours. It is using your head to produce the food and it takes a lot of thought." Tom Pemberton

Ironically, it was his father who warned him to steer clear of agriculture, warning it was heavy on the back and light on pay. It looked likely he might have took heed, particularly because as a teenager Tom describeshimself as ‘quite lazy’, but after an epiphany moment during a holiday in Portugal, he says: “I suddenly wanted to put on a boilersuit and get stuck right in.” After spending time working with their former parlourmanager, Tom went on to run the farm full-time, supported by his dad, mum Ailsa and wife Joanne.Alongside the milk vending machine, they have diversified into a farm shop, which sells meat directly from the farm, and introduced beef cattle, sheep and goats. His growing presence and warm personality have proved to be a runaway success and he is engaging with large swathes of the non-farming public in a humorous, but also enlightening
way. Tom says: “We started six years ago making these small videos and it has kind of exploded into what it is today, which is incredible and I am very fortunate. “People seem to relate to our highs and struggles and at the end of the day I am happiest when I am at home with the cows.”


Winning many admirers within the farming community, as well as becoming part of a new wave of stereotype-smashing young farmers, Tom has gone on to front BBC3’s new tractor-racing series The Fast and the Farmer-ish after his YouTube channel was scouted by producers. Nicknamed Crop Gear, the programme featured two tractor teams of young farmers from the four home nations, competing against each other in a series of driving challenges. He says: “I felt proud to present on a channel which is so youth-focused and I hoped it showed that farming is a very real career option and maybe one that people might not have considered before. “I think many might still see farming as old-fashioned, but I believe it is changing. It is still generational, but it is a young game too. Look at the likes of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, there is a massive younger generation pushing the industry out there.”

Continuing to raise the profile of British agriculture, he put pen to paper to write his first book, Make Hay While The Sun Shines, which tells of his year on the farm, which he openly admits has been written by a ghost writer. Tom says: “I was always good at maths, but I struggled with English and I was eventually diagnosed as dyslexic.

“I do not see it as a disadvantage, it is just a different way of thinking.” It is this kind of transparency which has helped catapult the role of British farmers and the agricultural world to an audience who normally would never give it a thought in any one time of a day. Tom uses his digital platform to help breakdown ongoing negativity surrounding farming and agriculture. He says: “A common misconception is that it is easy to produce what we do and how much detail is needed to produce the food we eat.

“Most do not realise how difficult it is and I am not talking about long hours. It is using your head to produce the food and it takes alot of though."

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This award recognises an individual or group of people who are Flying the Flag for British Agriculture by making a positive difference across the agricultural industry. They may be campaigning about a specific cause or issue and/ or raising positive awareness about the role of farming to the public. You can nominate someone you feel is Flying the Flag for British Agriculture. They will not be notified that they have been nominated unless they are chosen as the winner of the award.
For more information on the category and the British Farming Awards, visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk

Top 5 reasons to enter this years British Farming Awards

Agriculture has long been the backbone of the British economy and an integral part of the country's rich heritage. In recognition of the remarkable contributions made by farmers and rural communities, the British Farming Awards have emerged as a prestigious platform to celebrate and honor excellence in the agricultural sector. Whether you're a seasoned farmer or a budding enthusiast, participating in the British Farming Awards offers a plethora of reasons to embrace this opportunity.


Our reasons why you should enter this year's awards:


Showcase your achievements

These awards showcase the best of British farming across various categories, including dairy, livestock, arable, rural diversification, and machinery innovation. Winning an award or being shortlisted can significantly elevate your profile within the industry and serve as a testament to your expertise and commitment.

  Networking opportunities

The British Farming Awards serve as a gathering place for industry professionals, experts, and enthusiasts. Attending the awards ceremony or participating in the selection process allows you to network with like-minded individuals, exchange knowledge, and forge valuable connections. The British Farming Awards 2022 campaign reached more than 75.9 million people, with 900 attendees at the event, meaning you and your business will be at the forefront of a huge amount of press coverage.

  Community engagement

Engaging with fellow farmers, suppliers, and industry leaders can open doors to collaborations, partnerships, and the sharing of best practices. These interactions can have a profound impact on your farming journey, offering new insights and potential business opportunities.

Learning and Knowledge Exchange

The British Farming Awards provide a unique platform for farmers to learn from one another and exchange valuable insights. By entering the awards, you expose yourself to the experiences and practices of other farmers, enabling you to discover new approaches, technologies, and management strategies.

Personal and Professional Development

The process of entering the British Farming Awards can be a valuable learning experience in itself. The application and judging process often require self-reflection, the articulation of your achievements, and the demonstration of your farming knowledge. Engaging in this process helps you evaluate your own practices, identify areas for improvement, and refine your strategic thinking. Furthermore, being recognized for your efforts by industry experts and receiving constructive feedback can boost your confidence and provide a sense of personal and professional fulfillment.

Final Thoughts

Participating in the British Farming Awards is a rewarding endeavor for farmers at all stages of their careers. From gaining recognition and prestige to networking with industry professionals, the benefits are numerous. These awards not only celebrate excellence but also foster a culture of collaboration, learning, and innovation within the agricultural community. By entering the British Farming Awards, you become part of a vibrant ecosystem that promotes growth, sustainability, and continuous improvement in British farming. So, why wait? Embrace this opportunity, share your story, and contribute to the future of British agriculture.


If you don't want to enter the awards yourself, but know a farmer worthy of being nominated for a British Farming Award, you can nominate them HERE!

2022 Case Study: Agricultural Student of the Year

With no former farming knowledge, young farmer Rhona Campbell-Crawford took home the Agricultural Student of the Year award at the British Farming Awards in 2022.

Sponsored By:

Rhona Campbell-Crawford is a quiet force. Head down, focusing on the task and learning at every opportunity is what has driven her forward, culminating with her taking home the award for Agricultural Student of the Year at the 2022 British Farming Awards. Although she is from a non-farming background, Rhona caught the farming bug early on, and has since flourished, earning the respect of her peers, tutors and the rural community. She has been tipped as a ‘leader’ or ‘future lecturer’ from her nominating teacher at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), following her tireless commitment to developing her skills inside and outside of academia.

“I started helping out on a farm when I was 13,” says Rhona. “I used to help out with the highland ponies and lambing the Blackface sheep. “I really enjoyed it, and used to go every weekend after school – my parents did not see me.”

After building up her experience, she decided to go further and study at Scotland’s Rural College. Rhona is in her fourth and final year studying for a bachelor of science with honours in agriculture, and she is an advocate for giving those with no prior knowledge of agriculture, like herself, a taste of the sector. “I would encourage people to go out and try it,” she says. “You cannot know if you like it without immersing yourself in it. Agriculture should be brought into schools; we need to reach outside the sector. “It needs to start at school and be taught in classes or on farm visits – that is the only way from a young person’s perspective.”


As a new entrant, Rhona has faced challenges along the way, but her signature determination saw her overcome each and every one. “Making your way is the hardest part,” she reflects. “I am proof that you can come from a non-farming background.

“You go to university, and you are the odd one out, everyone has done it at home, so it was nice to win the award as recognition. “Do not underestimate yourself – you are more capable than you think you are. If you are willing to put in the legwork, you can achieve anything. “I did not know the front of a sheep from the back and now people ask me for advice. That is crazy. I was at the bottom and now I am someone they like to phone for help.”

She is also aware of the wider challenges that face the industry, especially surrounding policy. She believes that although the changes are not always clear, farmers should work to adapt and make the most of them. “I think, as an industry, there needs to be a clearer picture for farms that are still reliant on subsidies. “I also think that farms should try not to see other farms as competitors, and become less closed-off to each other – for example, try hosting other farmers to show them about a new diversification or system that has worked for you, share ideas and boost knowledge transfer. “Although I am aware this already occurs, I think it could be utilised further for maximum benefit.”


Rhona has also been building her farming enterprise outside of education, having recently purchased her own flock of sheep, which consists of a mixture of breeds including Suffolks and Blackfaces.
“I hope to try out breeding them to different sires this autumn, in a small study to see what combination may produce the best lambs suitable for the store market next year,” she says. “I am a member of my local Young
Farmers Club, Strathearn JAC, and was on the committee from 2019 to 2022, taking on roles such as assistant secretary.” In July, Rhona is off to Arkansas as part of SRUC’s farm trips and tours, and will have the opportunity to go to the American Agricultural conference. Normally, this is only offered to first-, second- and third-year students, but given her award and appetite to grow, she has been given a place, which is testament to her work ethic.

For now, Rhona is about to enter a new chapter in her journey and test out the waters in consultancy – gaining an all-round insight into every area she possibly can is what has driven her forward so far.
A structured, nine-to-five job is not what she had originally envisaged – she had also entertained the idea of government work and going into quality assurance – but after a successful placement with the
consultancy branch of SRUC, she has made quite the impression. It is, she admits, one of her proudest moments due to the level of competition to secure a place. “I completed a 10-week placement – it was tough securing a place but I wanted to see what the job was about.


“I carried out tasks such as carbon auditing and grant applications, and enjoyed it, and off the back of my time there they asked me back. “They have offered me a full-time job. If you put in the work and ask questions and demonstrate what you can do, it does not go unnoticed.” Being nominated for the Agricultural Student of the Year award came as a huge surprise, and to win was an even bigger shock. But taking the trophy home is
testament to her dedication towards proving her place in the sector.

“I did not know I was nominated until I got the nomination through and read what they had written,” she says.
“I just work quietly away and did not expect to get anything. I will remember the feeling and it will forever be one of the highlights of my life.
“Farming is a way of life, but there is the reward that comes with it, and you are very much your own boss. It is not for everyone, but for those who are in it, it is rewarding.


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We continue to be committed to supporting the agricultural community and, as such, are honoured to sponsor the Agricultural Student of the Year award. This prestigious award recognises outstanding students who have demonstrated a passion for agricultural engineering and a commitment to excellence in their studies. By highlighting the important work that agricultural engineers do in ensuring the success of the agricultural industry, we hope to inspire others to pursue careers in this field and help play their part in the future of British farming.



As the Agricultural Student of the Year, you will be successfully progressing your learning and career, inside and outside of college
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commitment to agriculture outside of academic life.


To enter or nominate a student, visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk

2022 Case Study: Beef Farmer of the Year

A complete overhaul of the beef enterprise at Skelton Farming by manager John Aynsley has resulted in a more efficient, sustainable business which is fit for the future. Angela Calvert finds out more.

Sponsored by:

Running a mixed farming business which encompasses 1,416 hectares (3,500 acres) is a challenge for anyone. When John Aynsley took on the role of manager at Skelton
Farming on the edge of the North York Moors 12 years ago, he knew he had to make changes to make the enterprise more efficient and profitable. The land is approximately half arable and half grass, which is a mix of permanent and short-term leys. It is not ring fenced, with the business spread across eight sites, which inevitably brings its own logistical problems.

John is supported by a team of eight staff, including a stockman, with the remainder working across all aspects of the business and he is keen they are all provided with career development opportunities. When John took on the role, the suckler herd consisted of 150 cross-bred cows with stores also bought-in to finish, but in 2012they began to make the transition to Stabilisers with the aim of breeding all their own cattle. He says: “Suckler cows suit our system and the land, but we needed to develop a more efficient way of doing things.

“I like the Stabilisers for their ability to make use of grass, their high fertility and easy calving, the fact they produce a calf every 365 days, their mothering ability and importantly, their temperament.”


  • The farm uses min-till and direct drilling
  • Improving soil fertility is key in both arable and livestock operations
  • Paddock grazing has reduced fertiliser use
  • The carbon footprint of beef produced has been reduced by finishing cattle quicker, having a tighter calving period and improved fertility


Four Stabiliser bulls were bought to put to the cross-bred cows, with the aim of grading up the herd. Since then, the herd has grown to 500 cows which are spring calving and is now a multiplier for the Stabiliser Cattle Company. John says: “Bulls are put in for three cycles and we started calving on March 20 this year, calving 85 per cent of cows in the first six weeks.” For the last three or four years, a paddock grazing system has been implemented which has not only improved grass utilisation and reduced fertiliser use, but brought other benefits. John says: “We have now got the infrastructure in place so mob grazing has become easier. How often we move them will depend on paddock and group size, but we tend to run big groups with multiple bulls in each group, working on the basis of two or three bulls with 80 cows.

“They soon develop a pecking order and do not fight and it has resulted in the PD rate going upand a tighter calving period and, because we DNA test to keep the bloodline separate, it is not a problem.”

"I want to say a big thank you to all our staff – we go through the hard yards but actually this shows we are not doing such a bad job"
John Aynsley


All males are kept entire with some sold or retained for breeding with the remainder finished and sold at about 14 months old at 380kg deadweight, usually to ABP or Dunbia. The best of the heifers are kept as replacements, with the bottom end given a summer at grass and then finished at 20 months old. Data is collected across the whole herd, with calves DNA tested and weighed at birth, at weaning and as yearlings.

Cows are scored for body condition, teats and udders and feet to create a maternal index and there is a disciplined policy in place for temperament.John says: “About 200 ofthe young cows are artificially inseminated each year to introduce new bloodlines so we can breed our own bulls and remain a closed herd.

“The aim is move forward by genetic improvement, which we can do by making constant small incremental changes which all add up. This means we are able to replace some of the older poorer cows with heifers with better figures and keep improving the herd.” Numbers are stable at the moment, but there is the possibility that they may increase in the future. “The limiting factor is buildings, as the land is too wet to winter cows outside, so we have to house them from late October/early November to spring."  “We currently also run a flock of 1,100 ewes, but we will be reducing sheep numbers so we can increase the cows, as cattle are more profitable." “The real value of the Stabiliser is as a suckler cow and they are cheap to keep. They are fed on straw for two-thirds of the winter, which we grow ourselves, and the muck goes back onto the land which is good for soil fertility."

Carbon audit

“We have recently undertaken a carbon audit, which has indicated our system has a low carbon footprint, but one of the issues is that currently there is no standard calculator. “The finished cattle are in demand from abattoirs as they produce such a consistent car case. They are like peas in a pod when they are hung up.

“The meat also has excellent eating quality because of the marbling, but under the current system we do not get a premium for that or whether the beef has a low carbon footprint, but I would like to think that going forward that might be the case.”

John’s close attention to improving efficiency, soil health and staff education impressed the judges of the Beef Farmer of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards.

John says: “It is such an honour to be recognised by your own peer group and it came as a complete surprise. “It has been a very steep learning curve and I am very proud to get a product onto the shelf at the end of the day that is going to feed people. “We do a lot through genetic and DNA improvement but it takes time to see the positive results. I want to say a big thank you to all our staff – we go through the hard
yards but actually this shows we are not doing such a bad job.”


  • 1,416 hectares (3,500 acres) split between arable and grass, plus 134ha (330 acres) moorland
  • 500 Stabiliser and cross-bred suckler cows plus followers
  • 1,100 ewes based on Innovis genetics
  • Arable land is in a five-year rotation of winter barley, oilseed rape, winter wheat, winter beans and winter wheat
  • Eight members of staff employed, as well as a farm manager

A word from the sponsor

We believe that innovation and environmental responsibility are at the heart of the future of British agriculture, and these form the basis for our approach in everything we do. We have continually innovated in the products we offer consumers from our tenderness and maturation processes to ensure consistently tender and flavour some beef, delivered by our patented Ultra Tender process, to our added value and convenience foods ranges which continue to grow sales in UK supermarkets.

Our innovation extends to our approach to environmental sustainability, with our ground-breaking work undertaken on our research and development farm. There, we are running numerous trials on everything from improving feed conversion to reduce cattle slaughter age, to genetic development works and methane reduction programmes. Initiatives we have already shown can achieve a significant reduction in methane emissions versus our average.

Fresh thinking comes in part from new perspectives. Here we have a rich pipeline of fantastic graduates coming into the business through our award winning ABP Talent Academy. We are proud of our people and
consider our team one of the best in the industry. To ensure this is maintained we invest in our teams through internal development programmes, but also giving our colleagues access to external programmes, from our in house Butchery Academy through to leadership programmes. Innovation runs throughout our business, which is why it is so important for us to seek out and celebrate innovation throughout our industry and sponsoring the British Farming Awards is an ideal way to do just that.


We are looking for a beef farmer who is not afraid to embrace change to boost efficiencies within their business to make their margins work harder. You are making the most of the opportunities presented to you, whether that be in management of quality cattle, demonstrating good stockmanship or implementing best practice. You will be introducing different ways to positively contribute to climate friendly farming, improving efficiency, productivity and profitability.


For more information on the category
and the British Farming Awards,
visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk

2022 Case Study: Arable Farmer of the Year

Winning the prestigious Arable Farmer of the Year award at last year’s British Farming Awards has allowed one Kent regenerative farming business to access new opportunities while raising its farm profile. Ash Burbidge find out more.

Sponsored by: 

James and Emma Loder Symonds demonstrate focus, belief and confidence in the clear path they have set out for their farming business at Nonington Farms, from their use of technology to their evolving approach to profitable and sustainable crop production. The couple have also created a business model that supports new entrants and engages with the local public and wider consumers.

Managing more than 1,200 hectares of arable land six miles southeast of Canterbury, they specialize in whole farm contracting, with the Loder-Symonds family owning 160ha and the remaining land made up of six contract or share-farming agreements. James is a qualified agronomist and Emma is a chartered surveyor and teacher who leads the farm’s education programme. Their team includes assistant farm manager Hugo Dwerryhouse; Phil Cooper and Richard Jordan, who help implement key ideas on the farm; and Abby Ferreira who works in the office.

Nonington Farms is based around a regenerative farming system, involving both arable crops and grazing livestock. James describes the transition to regenerative farming as a learning journey, and one of the initial stages of this journey is to understand that arable enterprises must be flexible with crop rotations. He says: “As we are moving further into reducing inputs and increasing our carbon sequestration elements,
we need to identify any problems when deciding our crop rotation, rather than carrying on with what we have always done.

“For example, if we have black grass issues we would like to alter the rotation and graze a cover crop to sort out the problem rather than keep throwing money at herbicides.”
The arable rotation is flexible, with crops selected dependent on seasonal pressure. It often consists of wheat, beans, oats, oilseed rape, and either herbal leys or annual cover crops.


  • Small flock of sheep grazing herbal leys and cover crops, then slaughtered close to the farm and lamb sold locally
  • Nitrogen testing
  • Installing solar panels on grain store
  • Identifying and reducing diesel usage


One of the central focuses of regenerative farming is reducing inputs. To highlight this, James pays close attention to varieties selected for the farm, servicing his contracts with Warburtons and Allied Mills.
He says: “We grow Group 1 varieties like Crusoe and Skyfall, but the latter is susceptible to yellow rust. To counter the high disease risk on that, we also grow Group 2 varieties like Mayflower and Palladium, where resistance scoring is far higher. “Mayflower is not susceptible to septoria, and that makes us less reliant on fungicides. We also grow heritage wheats, which are far more sustainable. The yields are half those of a modern variety, but they are more nutritionally dense and not so nutrient hungry. It is a niche market selling to local artisan bakers.”

Livestock also contribute to increasing soil health, as pedigree Romneys and Jacob sheep are grazed across a range of covercrops and herbal leys, ensuring there is always a root in the ground
to protect the soil. The cover crop is usually drilled in late July until October, when the following year’s beans and oats are direct drilled. James says: “The sheep nibbled off the old [wheat] tillers which were full of septoria, and after we took them off, you could see the effect in the vigour of new tiller growth compared to the non-grazed areas.”

Challenge and success

A significant challenge the farm is experiencing through its regenerative journey is trying to balance the required contractual protein levels of 12 per cent for Group 1 milling wheat with reducing artificial nitrogen inputs. James says: “That is the real challenge for us, but we are doing a lot of monitoring of both nitrogen in the soil, nitrogen in the plant and levels within the grain. We are looking at historic levels and linking
how much nitrogen each field has historically had and, as we are reducing the nitrogen, we can see what impact that has on protein level. It is not an exact science; this is a gradual journey that takes time to find the optimum.” Cost reduction to benefit profitability is a key driver for success, and the couple prefer to look at their costs over several years rather than over the previous 12 months. “Aiming to reduce the peaks and troughs of profitability, as well as trying to carve out more sustainable markets, would be our key drivers,” says James.

Nitrogen efficiency is another important focus at the farm and, so far, the business has managed to reduce inputs from 25kg per tonne of wheat to 13.8kg/t of wheat. “We do nitrate testing on every field, all of which have different requirements. We count tillers per square metre, and we monitor the potential bank of nitrogen in the soil that can be mineralised. Because we apply variable rates across the fields, we are only putting nitrogen on where it is required,” says James. Liquid nitrogen is applied with a 36-metre sprayer, allowing applications to be controlled down to each individual nozzle. This ensures there is no overlapping along the tramlines and that a reduced rate of chemical is used. James explains: “Most people assume because you are reducing inputs, yields go down, but we found that yields have stayed the same, [which we put] down to yield mapping and precision technology, but also because the soil is healthy. It is allowed to recover, and because we do not use insecticides anymore, birds and other natural predators like ladybirds eat slugs and aphids. “The areas taken out of production never yielded much, so all we are doing is enhancing the yield elsewhere by using them as havens for natural predators who counterbalance the reduction in inputs.”


In 2020, Nonington became a Leaf Demonstration Farm, which Emma believes has widened the farm’s network. She says: “We are brainstorming with farmers across the country and around the world; it opens our eyes to things going on beyond Kent.” Their original Higher Level Stewardship agreement required them to host 25 educational farm visits a year, but they estimate that there are 1,500 visitors to the farm yearly.
“There is a huge demand, but it is something we are very passionate about. I have this sense that you should build a community around you. If people do not understand about farming, what are we doing
about it? “I think sometimes teachers fear coming out to a farm, and farmers fear having teachers and children on the farm. “The best thing is when the children come back, not just year after year, but even week after week. That is when they begin to see what the farm is about and can see the flowers and trees – which they have sometimes planted themselves – growing and learn about the birds nesting in them. They will care much more about nature as a result,” says Emma. James adds: “Other farmers come here too. A lot of them do not have the confidence to deal with the general public, and we can help them. Our success is all about having a good team around us, with an emphasis on attention to detail. The farm hopes to continue producing Class 1 milling wheat and progress with its carbon journey. James also hopes to grow biodiversity by planting hedges, trees and increasing the number of species on the farm. There are also ambitions to expand the educational activities on the farm by extending the schools programme and encouraging new entrants to promote the farming industry. “The dream would be to not use any artificial nitrogen at all  which will be a challenge, but we see it as more of a long-term goal.”


The couple agree that winning last year’s Arable Farmer of the Year at the British Farming Awards has given them a confidence boost about where they are at as a business and provided opportunities with prospective ventures and access to products. “Since winning, we have had lots of people contact us; i has certainly had an impact and raised our profile. All our hard work and everything we have done to improve and streamline the business has paid off, and it is nice to know other people see what we see for the business and its future.”


  • 1,200 hectares in total; 160 owned and the rest under share-farm agreements
  • Mixed farm with arable and sheep
  • Leaf demonstration farm since 2020
  • Educational farm visits with over 1,500 visitors per year
  • Rotation: wheat, beans, oats/wheat, oilseed rape and either herbal leys, annual cover crop or rotational countryside stewardship option

A word from the sponsor

Kramp is a leading supplier of spare parts and accessories to the agricultural industry. At the heart of our whole operation is one simple objective: to keep farmers farming. We deliver on that promise daily, thanks not just to 500,000 parts giving us the widest range in the market, but also our next day delivery across the mainland United Kingdom and a constant commitment to competitive pricing. Since 1951, Kramp has honoured its promise to farmers by expanding its range and operations exponentially. From a one-man enterprise providing parts to nearby farms, we have become one of the main suppliers of spare parts and accessories across 12 European countries. In the UK alone, we serve a network of 3,500 dealerships servicing agricultural, OEM, forestry and ground care customers from Cornwall to Caithness. We remain a family-run business, with the same values and creed as when we started 72 years ago. We exist in the UK to support British farming, champion efficiency and innovation and provide British farmers with all the tools they need to do what they do best: feeding the nation. As industry leaders, we are honoured to partner with the British Farming Awards to sponsor the Arable Farmer of the Year 2023. This year’s award will recognise not just the eventual winner, but all the men and women who cultivate our beautiful and productive land. We are proud to be at the service of British agriculture: keeping British farmers farming

2022 Case Study: Family Farming Business of the Year

The ambitious and dynamic vision of the Mee family coupled with their drive to safeguard the farm’s future for the next generation is exemplary. Danusia Osiowy finds out more about the 2022 winners of the Family Farming Business of the Year.

Sponsored by

The Mee family works as an exemplary collective unit, with each of them taking on different roles in this hugely diverse business. With a huge focus on sustainable farming, the family is also changing their process to regenerative farming to help make the farm environmentally and financially sustainable in the long-term. Their diversification enterprises are delivered with creativity and flair, and together they are a force to be reckoned with. A leap of faith diversifying into blueberry production is the Mee’s family most recent – and financially significant – addition to their family farming enterprise. Peter and Zoe Mee run Lyveden Farm, made up of 283 hectares (700 acres) of predominantly arable land in the Nene Valley, Northamptonshire. The couple are fully supported by their children Emily, 26, and Charlie, 23, who work full-time on the farm. The family works as an admirably collective unit, with each member taking on different roles within the hugely diverse business. Alongside their astute business acumen and ambition to make the farm more environmentally and financially viable, this is one of the key reasons they were named Family Farming Business of the Year at last year’s British Farming Awards. Since moving to the farm in 1994, the couple’s core crops have been spring and winter wheat, spring barley, linseed, rye, peas and beans.

They operate third-party storage and drying facilities for Frontier Agriculture, accommodating 8,000 tonnes of harvested commodities from other suppliers who do not have enough on-site storage, alongside contract farming 243ha (600 acres) under various arrangements for four nearby farmers. Emily, who completed her chartered accountancy in 2020 before returning to the farm, manages the weighbridge facility and initiated the blueberry product development. Charlie, who returned from agricultural college at 18, manages the farm’s arable and contracting operations, while his girlfriend Charlotte, 24, is also employed fulltime as the packhouse manager. Zoe says: “We are proud to have a family business with everybody helping one another when needed and knowing what is happening across the whole business through family meetings. Peter and I still manage the overall business but encourage Emily, Charlie and Charlotte to take on more responsibilities within their roles.

With a huge focus on sustainable farming practices, the family is moving towards a regenerative farming system, reducing passes over the land, increasing crop rotation and adding in the use of cover crops to help make the farm environmentally and financially sustainable in the long-term. “As farmers, we believe we should be giving back to the land and looking after the environment, improving soils, rather than draining all its nutrients for higher yields short-term,” says Zoe. “We have worked on our environmental efforts through Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship and become involved with schemes as we move to methods to reduce our carbon footprint.”


In 2014, they embarked on their most recent on-farm diversification and ventured into blueberry production, which required a huge initial cost for compost, plants, irrigation and polytunnels, with no return at all for the first two years. From an initial yield of 3t, the family remained steadfast and achieved a record year in 2022 yielding 148t across 15ha (37 acres). Packed on-site, the produce is being supplied into M&S and Waitrose in both their standard and premium ranges.
“The diversification helped us spread our risk, reducing our reliance on arable income streams, while making use of our existing irrigation licence, which was valuable to have but not being utilised,” adds Zoe. “The income from the blueberry diversification was able to support the arable side of the business through the difficult year of 2019/2020. ”The decision to reduce the amount of waste out of the pack house also sparked the introduction of product development. Any fruit which would not last the seven days shelf life required for supermarket specifications is frozen on-site. Emily says: “As a business, we didn’t want our best and sweetest fruit going to waste. So we decided to freeze the fruit and use it in product development, but Covid-19 delayed the product development plans. “Rather than not do anything at all, we saw an opportunity to sell the frozen fruit to the local community using social media. “We also ran a pop-up shop every two weeks at the farm which has given us a good customer base to trial our products as they are developed.”

"We are proud to have a family business with everybody helping one another when needed and knowing what is happening across the whole business through family meetings" Zoe Mee

Product development

Their product portfolio, branded Mee Blueberries, includes a blueberry and lavender jam; blueberry, beetroot and chilli chutney, blueberry gin liqueur and a blueberry vodka liqueur. All of which are sold through their website direct to consumers. There are also a number of other products in the pipeline, with fruit juice and wine potential opportunities in the future. As a result of their product development and recent website launch, the Mee family is able to attend food markets and village events, giving them the opportunity to reach a wider geographic audience. Zoe says: “There is also the opportunity to develop further blueberry products and by talking to our current customer base we are taking note of their suggestions for blueberry products they would like to see developed in the future. “We can then research the viability
of these products and see if we can make them work.” Communication remains a key focus area going forwards and Zoe believes the opportunities can only help to strengthen the profile of the family business. “The greater the need becomes to educate the consumer about where and how their food is produced in the UK, to encourage them to support UK-grown food, the greater the role becomes for British farmers to promote food and farming and how it works in harmony with the environment,” says Zoe. “We want to educate the consumer firstly that blueberries are grown in the UK, show them how they are grown and give them the chance to taste them.

"Our key driver for farm improvement is always our children and building resilience into the business for future generations"
Zoe Mee


“We also want to share with the consumer why our farm is moving across to regenerative farming, what it involves and its benefits to the environment, together with other environmental efforts being made
on-farm to improve biodiversity.” They have already taken strides and are now involved with Open Farm Sunday, school visits, and community events and more events are on the horizon. On winning the Family Farming Business of the Year, Zoe believes it was a chance to reflect on what had they achieved together as a team. “We spent a number of years building a business to make an opportunity for our children to come and work for it and we have achieved that.

“However big or small, simple or complex you think your business is, you have to reflect on what you have achieved, congratulate yourself and each other and be proud and shout about it.
“Our key driver for farm improvement is always our children and building resilience into the business for future generations.”


  • Sustainable farming practices 35,000kW solar panels on the farm’s grain store rooves
  • Ground source heat pump for the farmhouse
  • Regenerative farming techniques
  • Creation of a new on-farm compost to reduce the need for additional fertiliser
  • Planting 6,800 hedgerow plants across the farm
  • Installed rainwater harvesting systems
  • Recyclable punnets

A word from the sponsor

Goodyear Farm Tires is one of Europe’s leading brands of tyres for agricultural machines. With a heritage and expertise dating back more than 120 years, Goodyear Farm Tires has been trusted for generations by the people at the heart of the farming industry. Our mission is to improve productivity and crop yield by providing farmers with a range of agricultural tyres that deliver class leading performance, durability and value. The range includes 85, 70, 65 and XL series Tractor Drive Radials, as well as specific designs for sprayers, harvesters and industrial applications. Goodyear Farm Tires is a brand licensed to Titan International Inc. which is a leading manufacturer of wheels and tyres, relied on across the world for durable products and quality service.
Find out more by visiting


At the heart of many farms lie the families behind them who, through generations, have developed their business to help secure its place for years to come. As a family, you will be able to clearly demonstrate a shared vision of where the business is going and who is responsible for the different areas core to the farm. You will also be able to confidently identify short- and long-term business challenges and work collectively to overcome them and develop new ideas and efficiencies. Succession planning will also be part of your future to help safeguard the family farm.


For more information on the category and the British Farming Awards visit

bfa shortlist

2022 case study: New Entrant: Against the Odds

As a new entrant into farming James Edwards has faced challenges, but with an admirable honesty and a no-nonsense approach he has emerged with more confidence in his decisions. Sarah Todd finds out more.

Sponsored by bfa sponsor

Winning the New Entrant category at last year’s British Farming Awards has helped open doors – or rather field gates – for James Edwards.

However, it would be wrong to say the months following the accolade have been plain sailing, as he has continued facing challenges which he has successfully overcome.

He says: “I lost some rented land and, coupled with the drought, it meant I had to sell the ‘B’ flock I had built up of cross-bred, and not quite as good quality, animals.”

But he has bounced back and been lucky enough to recently secure about 344 hectares (850 acres) of mostly grazing marsh from the RSPB in Essex.

“It is on a three-year tenancy and obviously the hope is that it goes well and we move on to a more long-term agreement,” says 38-year old James, who is the first to admit his dreadlocks do not make him the
most conventional-looking farmer.

“People wrongly presume I am some sort of hippy, when the reality is I just was not very good at looking after my long hair.

“As an interesting aside, it is often the traditional farmer who takes absolutely no notice of how I look and is much more interested in the quality of my livestock.”

It is with a dogged determination and a realistic attitude towards his bottom line that James believes he is set apart from many other new entrants.

He says: “A lot of newcomers to farming expect to be able to post a few pretty pictures online and live an idyllic lifestyle. Done properly, farming is hard work. The best advice I can give anybody wanting to try it is to get your sleeves rolled up and learn from people who make a living from it.

“I took a shepherding job which led to me being able to buy my own sheep. I still work on a contract basis a couple of days a week for somebody else and, in my opinion, too many new entrants expect a living handed to them on a plate.

“A few thousand Instagram followers liking pictures does not make you a farmer. It really is not all roses around the farmhouse door. I still live in a rented semi miles away from my sheep.”


James is a first-generation farmer who grew up in Wales.

The son of teachers, it was perhaps no surprise that he originally followed an academic path. He went to university and achieved a masters in social anthropology and a masters in social pedagogy.

After time overseas he returned to the UK, worked with children and ended up getting into farming.

His father had kept sheep as a hobby when James was a very young boy, so it was with them that he started.

He also followed in his father’s footsteps with his love of dogs.

James says: “Dad trained spaniels for trialling, so I had grown up around dogs and I am the first to admit they have played a huge part in my success.

“Through them, I was able to prove my worth as a shepherd. Becoming a farmer in my own right has all stemmed from that.”

Having found too many barriers for a first-generation farmer like himself in Wales, James moved to Hampshire to take a job shepherding at Kingsclere Estates, where he was hugely inspired by fourth-generation farmer Tim May, who has taken the estate down a regenerative route.

James says: “Tim is very forward thinking and a big believer in the fact that if you do what you have always done you will get what you always got from the land.

“I would say Tim has been at least 10 years ahead of his time with his attitudes towards things such as regenerating his soil.”

A second inspirational figure during his journey has been Tim White, the farmer behind the Exlana breed of sheep.

James says: “At 6ft 3in with a bad back, I knew I did not want to be shearing, so the fact the Exlana has a self-shedding fleece was instantly appealing.

“I went over to Tim’s with my dad and bought 120, funding them with a personal loan and telling the bank I was buying a truck.

“I really respect Tim’s theory that most sheep can be pushed through concentrated feed to look good.

“The real skill lies in keeping sheep in a low-input system and noticing, for example, the ram lambs which stand out as exceptional.

“These can then be retained and used for improvement. Tim’s meticulous flock recording is something I aspire to.”

Those original 120 ewes grew to two flocks, the aforementioned ‘A’ and ‘B’, totaling about 2,000 ewes.

"To anybody wondering about whether to throw their hat into the British Farming Awards ring, I would say go for it. It has given me some validation that I am doing something right"

Single flock

With the loss of grazing and the impact of last year’s drought, James is currently down to a single flock of about 1,200, keeping the ewe lambs he wants for replacements and selling the rest at a premium price of about £135/head into breeding flocks.

He also keeps about 130 Charmoise ewes, mainly for selling rams to other farmers as crossing rams over maternal breeds to produce fat lambs. In addition to the new land in Essex, James still rents 81ha (200 acres) in Hertfordshire and a further 81ha (200 acres) in Hampshire.

The RSPB land is the jewel in the crown, as it is in a ring fence with a good range of buildings. All other land is let on annual licences.

James says: “The RSPB holding lends itself to a cattle enterprise, which I am planning to start this summer.”

His lambs are born outside in May. He pays to over-winter them on arable crops and they are then sold from these fields between December and February.

James says: “When I first started out I naively had the dream that one day I would be able to buy my own farm.

“The harsh reality is that is never going to happen unless I win the lottery. It is hard when you are coming up against big money people who are buying up land as a way of avoiding tax rather than actually having any desire to farm it.

“The most I can hope for is to eventually try and consolidate my farming efforts in one county, rather than dashing between several locations.

“I am single at the moment, but it would be the dream to have a home on-farm if I ever had a family.

“I am taking an old caravan down to Essex for lambing and that is a new chapter for me.”


While he is mostly happy with his dogs for company, James has noticed that in a county like Essex he is surrounded by people but often quite isolated because of his rural lifestyle.

“I had to move away to get a start in farming,” says James, who runs his business under the name J.J. Livestock Solutions.

“A lot of people have helped me on my way, but renting land over such a wide area is quite a nomadic lifestyle.

“Talking to people and making contacts is so important as a new entrant. It was through the farm I contract shepherd for in Hertfordshire, Kaiapoi Romneys, that I heard about the RSPB grazing marshes to rent in Essex.”

James has a clear vision of only buying the right stock and aiming for a sustainable system.

He says: “As a first-generation farmer I bring hunger, drive and have nothing to lose. If I want to get ahead I have to
be good; I can’t just sit back and be a caretaker of the land.”

Biggest challenges in the months following James’ award success continue to be access to land and security of tenure.

He says: “My system is low-input forage-based on regenerative principles, such as cover crops and herbal leys.

“My focus is on genetics, with efficient low-input ewes and lambs, which can be finished on forage.

“To anybody wondering about whether to throw their hat into the British Farming Awards ring, I would say go for it. It has given me some validation that I am doing something right and also helped highlight how difficult it is to build a successful business which actually makes money as a new entrant.

“It has been a rollercoaster ride. Last summer I was forced to sell sheep because of the drought and then come autumn I was being interviewed on Countryfile and I have just secured 850 extra acres of land. It has been quite a turnaround.”


  • 344 hectares (850 acres) of grazing marshland in Essex rented from RSPB on three-year lease
    81ha (200 acres) of grazing in Hertfordshire
  • 81ha (200 acres) of grazing in Hampshire
  • Own flock of 1,200 mostly Exlana ewes. Gimmer lambs either retained or sold as breeding stock
  • Less labour input at lambing, reduced fly treatment, lower lameness and antibiotics use are all Exlana breed attributes; they are also known for resistance to worms
    Lambs not sold for breeding go to ABP
  • Closed flock, tested for iceberg diseases, with minimal medical usage
  • Goal of increasing formal performance recording of sheep flock to gain the premium found in selling breeding stock

A word from the sponsor

At Massey Ferguson, we live and breathe farming every day. We know the challenges, the opportunities and the rewards.

Above all, we know the people who make farming happen. The UK’s precious agricultural
sector is crucial to everyone. It must never be taken for granted.

The British Farming Awards highlight the vitally important work of the agricultural community and celebrate its outstanding achievements and we are delighted to be supporting the event again this year. As one of the top machinery brands, Massey Ferguson is totally dedicated to the future of farming and the creation of prosperous, sustainable farm businesses.

We continue to innovate, improve and refine to ensure farmers have the best possible tools for the job to achieve real, practical results in the field. Our extensive range of hard-working machines, combined with exceptional support services, are all designed to give customers the very best experience in owning and running our equipment. In partnership with customers and dealers, we are helping to shape the future of agricultural mechanisation and technology to meet the demands of 21st century food production. We are always asking ‘what’s next?’ Investment in people is paramount to a successful farming future.

Encouraging and motivating the upcoming cohort of farming professionals and fostering their energy and aspirations is close to our hearts. It is therefore a great pleasure to be sponsoring the New Entrant: Against the Odds category at this year’s awards.


This award welcomes entries from farmers who have had no security of a family farm and have built an enterprise completely from scratch. You may have worked your way to achieve your goals despite not coming from an agricultural background or have left a career in another industry to pursue a dream to farm.

Find out more here