James Wright

2021 Sustainable Farmer of the Year winner

Tonnagh Farm,
Wrights Farms,
Co. Armagh

When it comes to developing a sustainable, environmentally-friendly farm business, innovation, research and adaptation are behind any decision James Wright makes.

Farming more than 4,000 pigs across 300 acres in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, James has not only implemented measures which have enabled his business to become carbon neutral, but has ensured it is prepared for whatever challenges are thrown at it.

Much of the success of James’ business is based around his drive to find new ideas to drive improvements and profitability.

Developing feed practices and feed types have improved pig gut health and weight gain, while implementing strict biosecurity measures, training staff and having on-farm veterinarians has improved animal health, enabling the herd to become antibiotic free.

Outside the pig barns, James has introduced numerous measures to limit the environmental impact of the business whilst saving costs.

Significant investment in anaerobic digestion has enabled the farm to convert slurry and local food waste into power, which heats the pig barns and provides all of the energy the rest of the farm needs.


Meanwhile the farm has seen the introduction of strategies to improve habitats and boost biodiversity. Rainwater collection ponds have created new habitats for insects and plants, while storm water is handled in a more environmentally friendly way.

Closing the self-sufficiency loop, the farm also has its own fabrication plant, allowing it to build its own products and recycle where possible, as well as its own feed mill to create its own feed supplies.

James’ aims have been to try and be a step ahead, see problems before they occur, and – most importantly for him – be as self sustaining as possible.

He believes having a business which grows year on year, is able to sustain itself in terms of its energy need, promotes guardianship of the land, promotes biodiversity, loses fewer animals and retains staff is how he gauges success.

As a farmer, he sees himself and his team as guardians of the land, a responsibility taken very seriously.”

At a glance:

  • 4,000 pigs farmed across 300 acres
  • Focus on genetics research, feed management and biosecurity has created healthier animals with fewer losses
  • AD plant utilises farm slurry and local food waste to produce farm energy
  • Habitat creation has led to greater biodiversity, enabling at-risk species to thrive

What the judges said: 

A pioneer of on-farm sustainability, James’ richly diverse farm is already carbon neutral. Tonnagh Farm is a solid example of a truly sustainable business which is using its profits to invest further in new sustainable techniques. James has taken a holistic approach to boosting his green credentials on farm and, as an innovator, has visions of taking even bigger steps on this journey in the future. 

On winning, James said: 

“It feels unreal to win the award and it is totally unexpected as there were some unbelievable examples of sustainability in the category.

“We have been moving towards becoming more sustainable for the last 12 years and it has been a lot of hard work but it is now paying off.”