bfa shortlist

Tim Russon

WHAT started as just drilling maize for Tim soon led to the main drive behind P. Russon and Sons agricultural contracting business when he started harvesting and taking on other aspects he could progress the business with, such as oilseed rape drilling. The business has grown from one person to 10 full-time employed staff, expanding up to 30 when the business is at its busiest with maize harvest.

This year, the business has harvested around 3,240 hectares (8,000 acres) of maize using two new Class Jaguar 970 forage harvesters fitted with telematics to help with machine management. Tim aims to provide year-round contracting services to try and level out work peaks and troughs and to provide a steady income stream. This includes specialist miscanthus grass cutting and harvesting in January to April, utilising the forage equipment that would normally be redundant at that time of year.

He says: “We are constantly looking for niche markets in the area where there is minimal competition in the sector so the team can start contracting in that part of agriculture.” The business has recently added inter-row grass drilling services to its portfolio. This is drilled in between standing crops of maize to help retain nutrients and soil after the maize crop has been harvested. New technology is a key focus going forwards, to see how they can help increase productivity for their customers – for example, by using variable application of fertilisers – while also reducing the impact on the environment.

The business is experimenting with different cover crops with their customers to help protect the environment at harvest time and during the following winter. There are a number of rewilding projects to increase biodiversity, which are presenting the business with the opportunity to provide alternative services, such as habitat creation and management. This runs alongside the typical agricultural contracting jobs, but gives the farmer a way of becoming more sustainable and helping the environment. “I am always looking for new opportunities and exploring what is out there,” he says. “One of the sides we have developed more is using GPS on the tractors when spreading manure as people are valuing manure more, with the prices of inputs increasing.”

bfa shortlist

Olly Harrison

Olly Harrison is the fourth generation to farm at in Tarbock, Merseyside, where he and his family grow various crops over 566 hectares (1,400 acres). Olly is rapidly becoming one of the UK’s best-known farm-based YouTube stars. Filming a video diary started off as a bit of fun during the first Covid-19 lockdown, but it has grown into a diversification that is proving to be the most profitable part of his day. His YouTube channel now has more than 79,000 subscribers. Olly is thrilled to be on board the British farming awards 2023 to judge contractor of the year.

James Bannister

A little bit about me, I am 61, have been involved with farming and agriculture all my life.

My father was a farm forman, I have been a farm worker, farm  forman/manager, over the years. In 1998 I was involved in a serious farm accident , resulting in the amputation of my left arm. I started agricultural contracting in 2001, up to the present day, and still going from strength to strength. I have been a member of the NAAC since 2002 except for 2 years whilst in New Zealand, rejoining in 2011, and getting more involved with the NAAC resulting in becoming chairman in 2022 and still chairman now.

My current contracting business is JLR Farm Services, specialising in manure and lime spreading, also contract spraying based in Haxey in the Isle of Axholme covering a 40 mile radius of base, I run a JCB Fastrac on the spreading and Knight self propelled for spraying, along with a Manitou loader. I also now do talks on safety, talking about my accident and ways to prevent more farm accidents. As chairman of the NAAC, I have been able to talk more about the accident and Jill Hewitt NAAC, CEO has helped me with this.