Tim Pratt of Wantisden Hall Farms near Woodbridge named Farm Manager of the Year at Farmers Weekley Awards

Tim Pratt, farm manager at Wantisden Hall Farms near Woodbridge.
Photo: Tim Scrivener

Tim Pratt, farm manager at Wantisden Hall Farms near Woodbridge. Photo: Tim Scrivener - Credit: Tim Scrivener

Tim Pratt from Wantisden Hall Farms in Suffolk has been named Farm Manager of the Year at the 2016 Farmers Weekly Awards.

The judges described his enthusiasm as “infectious” as he described to them how he is using outdoor pigs and sheep to add fertility to farms’ light land, near Woodbridge, in order to improve intensive vegetable production.

Mr Pratt has been managing the largely arable operation at Wantisden Hall Farms for 10 years, during which time the area of land farmed has doubled to around to 1,350ha of which 785ha is owned and the rest contract farmed.

Crops include potatoes (the most profitable), onions, carrots, swedes, spring greens and vining peas as well as sugar beet, maize, cereals and oilseed rape, with suckler cows also having been introduced as well as the outdoor pigs and sheep.

Mr Pratt first turned to free-range pigs in order to remove potato volunteers and the crop’s biggest pest, potato cyst nematode, and also to add nutrients to the sandy soil and to generate a regular income.

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Next came a flock of sheep to chomp through the vegetable waste produced on the farm during the autumn and winter, and also to use ungrazed heathland in the summer.

The two livestock enterprises fit in well into a busy cropping regime which sees Mr Pratt harvesting and planting virtually every week of the year.

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The rotation on the lightest land is potatoes, pigs, sugar beet, onions, carrots and winter cereals, with fewer vegetables grown on the heavier soils.

Jeremy Wiggins, UK sales and marketing manager at Claas UK, which sponsored the award, said: “We are always highly impressed with the quality of our farm manager finalists. As farming continues to evolve this key role will require greater initiative, more imagination, courage and even greater commitment to the role of farm manager.”

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