Hear from the judges: What will you be looking for?

With the flood warnings and wet weather putting a stop to a lot of farmers completing many tasks on farm, we spoke to the judges to see what they’re looking for when reviewing the entries for The British Farming Awards.


Katie Hall,Chair of National Council, National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs

I will be looking for agricultural students that are passionate about their business and, importantly, those with an ambition to be part of the industry by joining/contributing to industry groups and organisations – it is by standing together and working in collaboration that things really do happen.

James Trett, Managing Director, JP Trett

As recruiters we always look at the effort a candidate has made in their applications. We also look at background research and individual efforts made in preparing for an interview (which can be related to preparing for a competition). To be prepared is showing that you are serious about your application, you have taken your time to be prepared. We would also look at the personal brand that an entry has, how they are perceived through social media and their input into various topics within agriculture. If they are active within areas of Farming within their own pastimes and making a difference to the industry it will stand out.


David Fuller-Shapcott, 2018 winner, Arable Innovator of the Year

I will be looking for someone/business that is thinking outside the box in terms of their approach to arable farming and the above challenges. They will need to be looking at what changes in practice and system will be required to meet these challenges. I am particularly keen to see businesses addressing the impending reduction in BPS – this means that I will be looking for a good in depth understanding of financial performance and how to both measure and manage the outcome.

David Miller, Director, Wheatsheaf Farming Company

I will be looking for entrants that have a different viewpoint and are solving problems in innovative ways. But this innovation must be long term and sustainable. Ideally, these will be more efficient solutions with less environmental impact.

Dr Lydia Smith, Head, NIAB Innovation Farm

Fresh innovation that is not only exciting for the entrant but that is applicable to their contemporaries


Charles Baker, Chairman, National Association of Agricultural Contractors

I will be looking for somebody that knows their costs, is open to new techniques and opportunities and will adopt these innovations to improve their business to meet the challenges of the future.

Andrew Howseman, 2018 winner, Contractor Innovator of the Year

Passion, Enthusiasm, Commitment, Service, understanding of customer base and what they require, identification of market place and understanding what the customer needs from you to make his business work better.


Jonathan Crickmore, 2018 winner, Dairy Innovator of the Year

someone who is an inspiring character to other people in the industry is working towards a more sustainable farming system someone who thinks out of the box and takes risks

Nick Holt-Martyn, Principal Consultant, The Dairy Group

The business definition is “The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay. To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need.” So I will be looking for something new that is making a positive contribution to the business and can be replicated by others in the dairy sector.

Abi Reader, Dairy Farmer, Co Founder of #CowsOnTour, Goldsland Farm

I will be looking for an energetic and enthusiastic entrant who has responded to a need they have identified in their business/industry. I am interested in the journey to get to where they are now. I will also be interested to see what they might do to pass on their experiences to help others.


Emily Ball, Account Director, Reverberate PR

I’ll be looking for examples of businesses that have used digital technology to transform their operations and helped them to meet the challenges of modern agriculture. Entries that demonstrate how digital innovation has helped a business grow, address challenges it faced or secure new opportunities will stand out for me.

Louis Wells, Solutions and Services Manager, BASF

I will be looking out for entries where farmers are really demonstrating how they are innovating and embracing new technologies on their farm. If they can show how they are building on what they learn and share their findings with others that would be the icing on the cake.


Steven Holmes, 2018 winner, Diversification (small to medium) Innovator of the Year

For me I would like to see a business that has really taken a risk, put themselves outside their comfort zone and shows real entrepreneurial spirit.

Brian Richardson, UK Head of Agriculture, Clydesdale Bank

Really good stories on what people have achieved and been able to make a real difference to their business and where ideas can help the wider industry.

Ronnie Ownsworth, Ambassador, Love British Food

I come from a traditional family farm background and as a small to medium agricultural business I know how hard it is for a smaller team to find the time, energy and resources to diversify so I do hope we receive many entries from that sector of the agricultural world too.  I will be looking for the person or agricultural business who are “so passionate”, knowledgeable and skilful about what they have diversified into.  I want to hear in what they have submitted in their entry, the sheer love for what they do, the passion they have for their product or service, and what it would mean to them to win this award and what a difference it will make to their business and if it will help launch them to a wider audience.  I would want that recipient to shout proudly that they have won this award.  I am passionate about farming businesses who engage with their community, especially with schools and education, informing them where their food comes from and the effort it takes to produce it to such high standards and I would like to see that shine through in their submission.


Rosie Hopkins, Business Manager, Business Barn

Farm diversification is all about making the most of tangible or intangible assets. For me, a stand out entry doesn’t have to be something totally unique or novel, but I will be looking for applications that showcase they have a clear plan and vision for the business which is being run by passionate people.

Kathryn Mitchell, 2018 winner, Diversification (large) Innovator of the Year

I am looking for those people who are going the extra mile, those people who have a vision and are passionate about that vision. To successfully diversify you don’t necessarily need years of experience but you need to know your own business inside out, and have a clear plan as to where you want to take it. Innovation is key to this award in particular so I am looking for entries that are constantly looking to grow and innovate their business.


Ian Lindsay, Consultant, LKL Services

I will be looking for someone who has made good progress in their careers, shows a dedication to their work and who takes ownership. Someone who has continually developed themselves through training and other forms and then brings those skills to the business. Someone who is proud of their place of work and of their career path and chosen occupation and ideally someone who can be showcased as a promise example to those who are unaware of farming as a career.

James Stewart, Director, Stewart Trailers

I will be looking for an individual who is enthusiastic, passionate and organised. They must not be afraid to embrace new ideas and technology.

Jacqueline Walsh, Recruitment Manager, Farm Solutions

When judging the Entries I will be looking for their story, why farming? I really like to see continued development, someone who invests time, in training and learning new skills, someone who demonstrates leadership and team support. What difference they have made to the business they are engaged with, what are the obstacles they have helped overcome and improvements made. I want to hear passion, and drive, where are  they going, what the future holds for them.


Alison Kerr, 2018 Winner, Family Farming Business of the Year

We will be looking for a close family unit who work well together, using all their strengths to create a god agricultural business.

Andrew McCormick, President, NFUS Scotland

An outstanding family farm business to me will make want to go home and do the same on my family farm with my family.


Iain & Stephen Birnie, 2018 Winners, Machinery and Farm Technology of the Year

When reviewing the entries we will be looking for an idea that has safety in mind. We will also be looking at the entries that will help farmers reduce costs when carrying out work. Also we will be looking for technology that can be used as often as possible throughout the farming calendar. The technology must be creative and well thought out and also show that there has been hard work involved to get the product produced.

Robin Normington, Sales and Marketing Manager, Albutt

Entries which help to increase food production at the same time reducing the use of chemicals and improving soil quality are sure to gain recognition. Presentations spelling out the operational benefits will stand out.

Jonathan Wilson, General Sales Manager, Perkins

An award entry connected to safety would be of interest, as too is an innovation which solves a complex challenge or delivers a productivity gain.



Sam Jones, 2018 Winner, 2018 Sheep Innovator of the Year

I’ll be looking for someone who is passionate about taking new ideas to the next level. Making innovations to included the next generation, promoting their innovation for others to learn from. Making things easier so things get done in a more efficient and productive way.

Lis King, Sheep Scientist, AHDB

I’ll be looking for an entry that shows me that this person really understands their business, has a clear goal(s) and is embracing tools and technologies (even simple ones) to help them achieve that goal. If they’re encouraging other farmers along the way through farmer groups – even better.

As for standing out, I remember someone once giving me some advice on applications which has always stuck with me. They said to always keep the person reviewing the application in mind. Imagine that they’re reading your application late at night, after a long day and their task is to reduce the huge pile of applications to a shortlisted few. Therefore the first couple of sentences of any application should “hook” the person into reading more, get them excited and get you onto the shortlisted pile. A bit like a good book that you can’t put down.

Whilst I won’t be reading these late at night after a long day, the advice I would give to anyone writing an entry is to capture the judges’ attention in your first few lines and make them want to read more.


Do any of these sound familiar?

Make sure you enter the awards today and make sure your time spent inside is productive! Start your entry here.