bfa shortlist

2022 Silver Beef Farmer of the Year

Cutsey Farm,

EDUCATION and the attitude to try new farming methods stood out for Somerset-based South Devon breeder, Edward Hawkins. Running a low-input, paddock grass-based system, he likes the South Devon for its docility and ability to thrive from grass. Key areas of focus for Edward are around soil health and precision grazing techniques. A rotational grazing system is in place, splitting fields into paddocks of 0.8 hectares (two acres). Grass is measured every week and data is collated on Agrinet. This has been effective since changing system in 2012 and he is now producing 12-18 tonnes of dry matter per hectare (4.9-7.3t DM/acre). A grass-fed fattening system is used and cattle are sold deadweight to ABP.

A forward-thinking farmer with a thirst for learning, he is a regular host and participant of discussion groups, applying and adjusting his day-to-day systems as a result of the dialogue. He says: “By increasing my knowledge, I have been able to produce more from less and gain confidence to push the impossible to become the possible. “It is not a case of one big change, but small changes in lots of areas which see a noticeable difference.” In efforts to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint, the calving age is at two years and bulls are finished under 15 months, with Edward setting a key performance indicator of one calf per cow per year. He has also reduced nitrogen use by 50 per cent and no creep feed is used, just milk and grass. Full advantage of estimated breeding values is taken to improve the herd and see the changes through generations.

Edward has used a farm carbon calculator to help him understand his current status and has enrolled through the South Devon Herd Book to have an on-farm assessment to look at the business.

Achieving net zero

  • Reduced fertiliser usage
  • Engages with contractors to operate more efficient machinery
  • Improving soils, organic matter and living organisms