bfa shortlist

Andrew Brewer

ANDREW Brewer and his wife Claire have run a grass-based dairy system for more than 20 years. Employing four fulltime staff members, the business runs a 500-cow autumn block calving herd, aiming to graze cows every day of the year utilising on/off grazing techniques. Some land is also let out for the production of potatoes and cabbages. All calves are retained for replacements or beef finishing and reared outdoors on grass and milk from seven days old, with males kept entire for rapid finishing at 13-14 months of age and beef heifers grazed with replacements until dairy heifers are mated.

Soil and animal health is central to maintaining the productivity of this farming system, with a focus on environmental sustainability and net zero latterly having enabled the business to make targeted improvements. Involvement in a soil carbon project is providing direction for targeted dung, compost or digestate field treatments, while a farm net zero project is facilitating learning around how mixed swards and the use of cover crops can affect the business’ bottom line. “Initial data on this suggests very little difference in rumination between sward type,” says Andrew. “Some milk constituents have been seen but more results are needed. The global need for more food and the ability to put a vegetable crop onto a livestock farm to improve quantity and quality of human nutrition should be pursued. “Increasing nutrition density and getting cattle eating crop residue, rather than contributing to food waste totals, are vital – we are grazing food waste for two months of the year, which allows more grass to be harvested earlier in the year.

“Understanding if carbon and other nutrients are replaced by regrading is a project I am very much excited by.” Challenging his own thinking and possibilities is also a big driver for Andrew who, as a senior GrassMasters discussion group member, has been able to partake in international travel and study tours on several occasions. Business succession has also been addressed to future-proof the financial side of the business, with the couple’s children brought into business discussions from an early age.

Hannah Morgan

Hannah joined Farmers Guardian in early 2018 where her role as Livestock Specialist sees her getting out and about to everything from show and sales, events, open days as well as farm features to bring readers all the latest news from livestock circles.
Before this, she graduated from Harper Adams University in 2015 and spent three years working in the communications team at the National Sheep Association.
Hannah lives in the Scottish Borders and keeps a South Country Cheviot flock with her husband who also shepherds a flock of Blackface sheep on an upland estate.

Louise Penn

Louise is a BASIS, FACTS, Soil and Water and Conservation Management qualified agronomist with a portfolio of clients in the Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire area. She is particularly interested in regenerative agriculture and soil health, and believes we have a big opportunity to be more sustainable in our farming practices and still maintain high levels of profitability and productivity. She is involved on her mixed family farm where sheep and grass leys have been integrated into the arable rotation allowing the transition from a plough to a direct drill-based system and improvements in soil health. Providing her technical and practical knowledge across both enterprises.
Louise graduated from Newcastle University with a First Class Honours in Agriculture with Farm Management and then travelled to Western Australia to travel and do a harvest driving a chaser bin on a 10,000 Ha farm. Her career started on a national agronomy programme before joining Ceres Rural, where she has a farm consultancy role offering farm and crop management advice to her clients.
Outside of work she enjoys working on her family farm, particularly at harvest and lambing time. She enjoys keeping active and has her own ‘Rural Gym’ which she built during lockdown. She recently climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for the Farming Community Network.