Awards recognise farming enterprise

CONSERVATION, co-operation and diversification have all been highlighted by the judges in this year's Suffolk Farm Business Competition, organised annually by the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

CONSERVATION, co-operation and diversification have all been highlighted by the judges in this year's Suffolk Farm Business Competition, organised annually by the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

The competition, sponsored for the first time this year by Clydesdale Bank, is divided into separate categories for small farms (of up to 200 hectares), medium (200 to 399 hectares) and large (400 hectares-plus) and each was well supported, including a number of first-time entrants.

In addition to first, second and third prizes in each category, special awards are made in each section for the best arable crop, the best livestock enterprise and conservation.

This year's judges came from Norfolk, with John Garner and Robert Fletcher judging the small farms, Robert Perowne and Michael Case judging the medium-sized farms and Roger Crane and Tony Bambridge judging the large farms.

The winner of the large farm category was F G Taylor & Son of Grove Farm Clopton, near Woodbridge. The judges were particularly impressed with the management system, the clear strategy set out for the next five years and the diversification projects developed.

Winner of the medium farms category was Porters Farms (Walpole) Ltd of Hill House Farm, Walpole, near Halesworth, which impressed the judges with its overall management and maintenance of the farm, an excellent wheat crop and its conservation strategy which saw the farm also awarded the special award for conservation.

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The small farms category was won by a joint entry from Messrs Knock and Howson of Mill Green Farm, Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket, and R F Forest which undertakes all the arable operations on the farm.

The judges were impressed with the strong sustainable business and its excellent crops - also awarding the best crop special award for a field of wheat - and commented that the entry demonstrated how cooperation could be successfully achieved, in this case allowing the farmer to follow his other chosen career.

Christopher Bushby, executive director of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, said: “We are delighted that, following a review of the competition earlier this year, we had such a high number of excellent quality entries and the competition continues to be well supported by our Suffolk farmers.”

David Hughes, senior agribusiness partner with Clydesdale Bank, whose regional team is based in offices in a converted barn, outside Bury St Edmunds, added: “We are very pleased to have been involved with the Suffolk Farm Business Competition.

“It was very good to witness all the work and effort the competitors put into presenting their businesses to the judges who, I am sure, had difficult decisions to make in picking winners. Congratulations to all the entrants.”

The presentation lunch was held earlier this week at Hill House Farm, Walpole, winner of the medium farms category. The lunch, for which all ingredients were sourced from within Suffolk by Margaret Holland of Farmhouse Cooking, was followed by a farm walk.

The full results of the 2006 Suffolk Farm Business Competition were:

Farms up to 200 hectares (the F W Barker Perpetual Challenge Cup): 1 Messrs Knock and Howson, Mill Green Farm, Stonham Aspal; 2= Valley Farm Ltd, Wickham Market, and Fletcher & Dunt, Park Farm, Charsfield and Potsfords Farm, Letheringham. Special awards: Best Arable Crop, Messrs Knock and Howson (Wheat); Best Livestock Enterprise, White & Partners, Peakhill Farm, Theberton; Conservation, Fletcher & Dunt.

Farms of 200 to 399 hectares (the Cranworth Perpetual Challenge Cup): 1 Porters Farms (Walpole) Ltd, Hill House Farm, Walpole; 2 Plant Larter Farms, Rookery Farm, Framlingham; 3 J R Grimsey, Raydon Hall, Orford. Special awards: Best Arable Crop, Plant Larter Farms; Best Livestock Enterprise, J R Grimsey; Conservation, Porters Farms (Walpole) Ltd.

Farms of 400 hectares or more (the King George VI Memorial Challenge Cup): 1 F G Taylor & Son, Grove Farm, Clopton; 2 Home Farm Nacton Ltd, Orwell Park Estate Office, Nacton; 3 David Black & Son Ltd, Red House Farm, Bacton, Stowmarket. Special awards: Best Arable Crop, Home Farm Nacton Ltd; Best Livestock Enterprise, David Black & Son Ltd; Conservation William Wrinch, Ness Farm, Erwarton.

n The results of the Essex County Farms Competition, sponsored by Essex Agricultural Society, NuFarm UK, Porter Agriculture and the NFU Essex Members Trust, were:

Farms of 700 acres or more: 1 Andrew d'Angibau, Wick Farm Ltd, Aldham; 2 L E Carr & Sons, Butterfields Farm, Latchingdon; 3 R McGowan Ltd, Regis Grange Farm, Hatfield Broad Oak. Conservation awar: L E Carr & Sons.

Farms of up to 700 acres: 1 B R Cowell, Lunedales Farm, Southminster; 2 W D Brown, Malting Farm, Little Horkesley; 3 D A Hills & Sons, Great Broadfields Farm, Great Dunmow. Conservation award: W D Brown.

Wick Farm, Aldham, near Colchester, winner of the large farms category, will host a farm walk on Monday, July 17, starting at 6.30pm.

The judges, this year drawn from Bedfordshire, awarded marks for the quality and performance of crops and livestock, management skills, use of capital, set-aside management, care for the environment and general impressions.

Farms qualified for the competition through local contests held by seven farming clubs and societies around the county.