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Farmers Weekly Awards: Farm Supervisor finalists 2021

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This 12 months’s finalists share many challenges in steering the companies they handle.

Whereas their farms are very totally different, in addition they share a dedication to searching for enhancements at each alternative.

The finalists:

  • Tom Chanter, FWS Carter & Sons, Woodbury Salterton, Devon
  • Jake Freestone, Overbury Enterprises, Overbury, Gloucestershire
  • Edward Vipond, Troston Farms, Stanton, Suffolk

See additionally: Farmers Weekly Awards: Congratulations to our 2021 shortlist

The judges:

The judges visited every of the finalist for a three-hour interview and tour of their farm.

The Farm Supervisor of the 12 months judges are:

  • Peter Eccles, final 12 months’s winner
  • Suzie Horne, Farmers Weekly enterprise editor
  • Andrew Robinson, farm supervisor at Heathcote Farms

Tom Chanter, FWS Carter & Sons, Woodbury Salterton, Devon

Tom Chanter © Emily Fleur

Tom Chanter is most pleased with having turned a loss-making beef unit right into a worthwhile, environment friendly, protected and excessive welfare enterprise.

In lower than 4 years managing the Greendale group’s farming enterprise, he has improved development price, labour price, mortality charges, grading outcomes, numbers offered and margin a head.

The enterprise additionally provides maize to a hungry anaerobic digestion (AD) plant and is a part of a wider group, together with industrial items, a marina, fishing boats and a flourishing farm store.

Tom joined the enterprise in late 2017 to eye-watering wastage and dire development charges. With a background in diet, this was his instant focus, and he set about bettering palatability and moved the cattle to feeding thrice day as an alternative of simply as soon as.

Feed wastage has been lower from an estimated 15-20% to about 5%, with a goal of three%. 

Consideration to element

Cattle are on the farm for 90-100 days, with about 80% purchased on fee although livestock markets. Each animal is now handled as a person, attaining a day by day common development price of 1.43kg.

Every thing is carefully deliberate, costed and analysed. By the primary six months of 2019, Tom had 87% of cattle hitting the grade and weight for his important buyer, Woodheads, supplying Morrisons. Now it’s 98%.

Wholesale butcher Weddel Swift is a more moderen buyer and the farm store additionally now buys 500 carcasses a 12 months – double the amount of three years in the past.

The unit can also be a pilot farm for Morrisons’ net-zero beef mission and a favoured provider as a result of it could assure 2,500 head a 12 months, which nets an honest assured base value and bonuses for assembly spec.

Danger administration

All the time conscious of vulnerability to enter and cattle value fluctuations, Tom has developed a six- to 12-month guide of ahead feed ingredient purchases to allow nearer budgeting and to scale back value danger.

He additionally lower the farm’s equipment fleet – cereal cultivations, muckspreading and haulage are achieved in-house, with drilling and harvesting carried out by a contractor. This provides a greater unfold of labour and equipment prices, in addition to improved timeliness.

Contractors deal with maize for each the AD plant and cattle feed, with a set margin a tonne having been negotiated for maize provided to the biodigester.

Additional dangers to the enterprise embody reliance on rented land, whereas the primary arable challenges are blackgrass and compaction.


Tom designed a day by day safety-checks app for the farm equipment fleet, which has now been adopted for 200 automobiles throughout the entire group.

Working with the administrators and stockman, a brand new cattle dealing with and ID system has been put in, with a lot trial, error, sweat and tears to get the totally different elements of the system to co-operate with one another. Each animal is now EID tagged, enabling knowledgeable choice of cattle.

Tom manages a staff of 4, with employees given accountability, annual opinions and target-led incentives – for instance, regarding equipment repairs and well being and security.

Social outings assist knit the staff collectively and embody go-karting occasions, a bunch Christmas celebration and one for the farm staff.

Assistance is taken on at peak occasions, together with sharing labour with contractors, with whom the farm staff work carefully.

Tom sees meals schooling as pivotal to the way forward for farming and hosts faculty visits twice a 12 months, in addition to different farmer and non-farmer group visits. He’s additionally a board member of the Nationwide Beef Affiliation.

What the judges say

Tom has an outstanding understanding of all costings, enabling a return to revenue previously few years. His background in diet has proved extraordinarily precious in attaining this.”


The judges preferred

  • Shut evaluation of manufacturing prices
  • Ahead shopping for feed components to handle danger
  • Improved diet and cattle efficiency
  • Supplies clients with constant high quality they need
  • Working with giant retailer and wider trade to realize zero-carbon beef
  • Profitable creation of cell phone app for security checks on farm equipment

Farm details

  • 344ha owned, 384ha rented
  • Arable and cattle ending
  • Maize for AD and cattle, additionally oats, hybrid rye, barley, forage rye
  • Current funding in cattle dealing with
  • Involvement in two ELM trials and Morrison’s net-zero beef mission
  • Countryside Stewardship scheme

The numbers

  • 4,000 Head cattle completed – this 12 months’s goal
  • 1.43kg Day by day liveweight acquire
  • 5% Feed waste, down from 15-20%, goal to chop to three%
  • 90-100 Variety of days beef cattle spend on farm
  • 200 Variety of group automobiles now utilizing Tom’s day by day safety-check app

Jake Freestone, Overbury Enterprises, Overbury, Gloucestershire

Jake Freestone

Jake Freestone © Richard Stanton

A 2013 Nuffield Scholarship cemented Jake’s ambition for a brand new farming system at Overbury.

Travelling the world to take a look at crop manufacturing, the eye to element he noticed in bettering soils via regenerative practices spurred him to an analogous strategy in tackling the primary challenges to the enterprise.

He lists these as local weather change, risky markets, an ageing workforce, rising prices and decreasing help.

Whereas the monetary advantages are necessary, he’s most pleased with the elevated biodiversity achieved throughout the whole property, seeing nature thrive alongside the manufacturing of high-quality worthwhile crops.

Jake has full accountability for budgeting, buying, advertising, compliance, personnel and funding, additionally taking part in a wider function within the Overbury Enterprises enterprise.

The farm is now no-till, grows cowl crops extensively and has an extended, extra numerous rotation, together with sheep.

The transfer has diminished manufacturing prices, however maintained yields on soils starting from Evesham clay although sand and gravel to Cotswold brash, and lowered publicity to local weather danger.

The change to no-till has lower carbon emissions by half and the farm now sequesters extra carbon than it emits.

Manufacturing price financial savings

A cross-slot drill helped lower institution prices from £169/ha to £46/ha.

Utilizing much less artificial fertiliser and elevated functions comparable to biosolids and poultry litter, the annual web saving on the fertiliser account is £42,464.

No pesticides are used within the arable rotation, elevating insect and chicken populations, whereas in depth tissue testing has largely eradicated the usage of seed dressings.

Soil natural matter within the three important soils has been raised by 1.7 share factors over seven years and is rising at 0.2 share factors a 12 months.

Growth of the acreage and diminished mounted prices has come via a contract-farming settlement with a neighbouring landowner.

Cropping and advertising is geared toward including worth via milling, malting and seed contracts.

The primary ewe flock is 75% North Nation Mules, the rest Romney cross Aberfield, with lambs offered deadweight via Could Hill Lamb group.

From the 2020 crop, 97% hit the spec for situation and fats class. The small Dorset flock is lambed at Christmas and offered to a buyer simply 90m from the farm boundary and thru Overbury Enterprises’ personal field scheme.

Employees administration

The skilled and settled full-time workforce of 5 is augmented by a Hartpury pupil and a part-retired basic farm employee. All are concerned in decision-making.

Common staff conferences embody evaluation of the farm’s strengths, weaknesses, alternatives and threats, with particular person conferences overlaying well being and security, coaching wants and any considerations. There’s a thorough induction for brand spanking new employees.


Biodiversity counts present continued enhancements in wildlife – monitoring of farmland birds, wildflowers and grass species started in 2004 and moth surveys in 2016.

Stewardship revenue has been elevated via a Greater Tier settlement beginning in Jan 2021 and Jake has additionally instigated many non-funded environmental measures.

He has a excessive profile on social media and is a good ambassador for farming and the setting, at each a farm sector degree and extra broadly in public-facing roles together with internet hosting Open Farm Sunday, faculties and lots of different teams. He holds quite a few positions on farming and environmental our bodies and initiatives. 

The subsequent 5 years will see a continued give attention to price management and including worth, with arable, sheep and stewardship at its core. A cellular rooster unit and bed-and-breakfast pigs are being thought-about, serving to optimise the arable labour staff over winter and producing extra farmyard manure on farm.

What the judges say

Jake’s administration of soils and the setting is second to none. He has led his staff nicely via the transfer from a min-till-based system to a direct-drill strategy.


The judges preferred

  • Clear imaginative and prescient to enhance soil and animal well being and construct a strong enterprise with a number of income streams
  • Spectacular crop well being and yields on regenerative system
  • Integration of livestock and arable, benefitting each
  • Intensive consciousness elevating to wider public and faculties of farming and advantages of the Overbury strategy

Farm details

  • 1,600ha of in-hand land, of which 950ha arable, plus 250ha contract farmed for neighbour
  • Milling wheat, OSR, peas, beans, linseed, quinoa and malting barley
  • 1,050 outdoor-lambing ewe flock, small pedigree Dorset flock
  • Greater Tier stewardship began January 2021
  • Leaf demonstration farm since 2012 and an Agri-EPI satellite tv for pc farm for internet hosting agri-tech analysis

The numbers

  • £795/ha Harvest 2020 common arable gross margin
  • £46/ha Institution prices, in contrast with £169/ha beneath earlier system
  • 3,935t Farm’s annual carbon emissions
  • 4,323t Farm’s annual carbon sequestration
  • 10,000t New grain retailer, permits advertising flexibility and third-party storage revenue
  • 690mm 5-year common rainfall – 5 of previous six years have been under this degree

Edward Vipond, Troston Farms, Stanton, Suffolk

Edward Vipond

Edward Vipond © Jason Bye

Edward runs a worthwhile and increasing farm enterprise. On becoming a member of six years in the past, an additional 150ha was taken on, adopted by 230ha in 2018 and 215ha this 12 months. 

He manages rotations on soil varieties from heavy clay to Breckland sand, with the primary challenges on his arrival being a big blackgrass problem, poor soil construction, with equipment and cropping ill-suited to the soil varieties.

Edward’s wholesale adjustments to rotations have seen oilseed rape, sugar beet and forage rye faraway from the sunshine land, with sunflowers and milling rye changing these to scale back danger.

He has additionally moved away from contract rent to rent buy with prolonged guarantee to safe the working prices of the primary equipment.

Digestate and pig slurry are used to take care of natural matter and there’s a straw-for-muck settlement with an area pig producer. 

Edward’s function contains manufacturing of an annual finances, cashflow, planning and advertising of all crops and a five-year capital expenditure plan.

Month-to-month experiences and cashflow updates are produced for the farm’s proprietor, who lives overseas, with formal monetary reporting thrice a 12 months.

Danger administration

The danger of investing in rising crops on gentle land is fastidiously calculated. Sunflowers are low danger in these phrases and produced a gross margin of £747/ha in 2020.

Eager to “hold the soil busy”, cowl crops and catch crops have been launched to take care of a inexperienced cowl via autumn, additionally decreasing wind and water soil erosion.

Edward sells one-third of his crops earlier than harvest, extra if snug doing so, and has offered 2022 feed wheat at £165/t ex-farm. Benchmarking by Andersons exhibits his long-term advertising technique has achieved good common costs.

Edward sees the enterprise increasing additional, however says there may be additionally the prospect of presumably not cropping as much as 25% of the land. Internet hosting outside pigs is into account


The 40ha of sunflowers are at the moment grown for supplementary feeding mixes in Countryside Stewardship schemes, however Edward has ambitions so as to add worth by urgent the seed for oil or de-hulling it and promoting the kernel.

A number of trials are run for Ryvita on seed price, nitrogen effectivity and urea inhibitors, in addition to in-house selection trials

Including worth

Contracts with Ryvita, Warburton’s, native pet meals producers and chicken feed suppliers, in addition to anaerobic digestion feedstock clients, all search so as to add worth to the farm’s output.

Ensuring his staff of three full-time employees are content material and invested is crucial.

Modifications since his arrival embody involvement of the employees within the challenges and targets for the farm, and introducing breakfast conferences off-farm, giving a possibility to lift points and make strategies.

He additionally moved the staff from a wage foundation to wage and extra time, which he says is extra motivating.

Employees are additionally now given enter into specification and choices on main equipment purchases, encouraging a sense of possession and bettering upkeep and sale values.

The farm has two mid-tier Countryside Stewardship schemes and is collaborating within the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilots as Edward is eager to be a part of shaping future environmental coverage.

He promotes farming each on and off the farm, stewarding on the Suffolk Present and the Suffolk Farm College Honest.

Shut hyperlinks with the native main faculty embody the annual “Tractors for faculties” day and a problem to develop the tallest sunflower. He’s additionally linked to a college in Wales for Farmertime (previously Facetime a Farmer).

His common contribution to the parish journal gives a “view from the farm” for the area people.

What the judges say

Edward manages all enterprise dangers extraordinarily nicely, has a superb understanding of monetary issues and has led the farm via a interval of speedy development for him and his small staff.


The judges preferred

  • Big dedication to the enterprise
  • Constant efficiency of crop yields in durations of growth
  • Consideration to element with proactive strategy to agronomy, soil well being and grain advertising
  • Sunflowers returning good margins and with alternative so as to add additional worth
  • Ahead-thinking strategy to realize a well-integrated enterprise

Farm details

  • 1,542ha arable
  • Rising milling and feed wheat, feed and malting barley, milling and feed rye, spring beans, sunflowers, maize for AD
  • 110ha let on annual licence for potatoes and onions
  • Three full-time farm employees, harvest pupil

The numbers

  • £943/ha Common gross margin
  • 75.65t/ha 5-year common sugar beet yield
  • 8.82t/ha 5-year common winter wheat yield
  • 22 Variety of miles between the 4 farm bases
  • 22 Properties – hire roll, upkeep and lettings to handle

Sponsor’s message

Safety Revoltion

The Farmers Weekly 2021 Farm Supervisor of the 12 months is sponsored by Security Revolution

“We worth the popularity that this award bestows on managers who lead their groups with nice talent, expertise and imaginative and prescient whereas guaranteeing the protection of every employee, defending their employer and the enterprise they’re serving to to construct.”

Oliver Dale, managing director

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