Tom Rawson and Charlie Crotty

Evolution Farming Ltd,


Sponsored by: Arla

Over a decade, Tom Rawson and Charlie Crotty have grown their dairy business, Evolution Farming, by ‘focusing on people as well as cows’.

Starting on Tom’s home farm in Yorkshire and a tenancy in Lincolnshire, Tom and co-founder Oliver Hall quickly established their business before Charlie Crotty joined the business in 2015, bringing management agreements in Norfolk and Cheshire and the opportunity to take on a tenancy in Leicester.

Evolution Farming now has a team of 45, managing 2,500 cows across six organic and conventional dairy units, plus arable, livestock and horticultural enterprises. All milk is sold to Arla, with organic milk processed for McDonald’s.

In 2018, the business established an in-house contracting team and started to introduce standards and procedures across all the farms. Central to success are the people working within the business and progression is supported through annual appraisals to understand their ambitions and development needs
and a management structure which ensures career growth.

Tom says: “We realised success is not going to be driven by cows, farming systems or milk production, but rather by people. We have invested considerably into the development of the team so it is equipped and motivated to achieve.”

The business is starting a joint venture with two of its dairy managers, enabling them to build up equity in a dairy enterprise.

The most significant change recently has been to develop a replicable business model, which Tom and Charlie believe is unique in UK dairy, and has taken much of its design from New Zealand.

Units are incentivised with financial reward, encouraging them to continually improve. Data and financial performance is benchmarked between units.

On winning, Tom and Charlie said: 

“The award is testament to just how hard everyone works and a chance to celebrate the whole team’s involvement. Just four years ago there was four of us in the business and now there is 45. It has been a massive undertaking to grow the business so quickly, but winning an award like this gives us the confidence to know we are heading in the right direction and can face the challenges of the future. We’ve been blown away by the sheer amount of messages of congratulations on our social media and also on Whatsapp.”

What the judges said:

The ethos adopted by Evolution Farming and the positive management of their staff is, in the judges’ words, truly inspirational. Creating opportunities for their team to progress and prosper has secured a motivated and loyal workforce, which has without doubt contributed to the business’ success. Tom and Charlie have also showed an admirable ability to attract investment and seize opportunities for expansion, which was particularly commended given the ongoing difficult financial climate.