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13.05.16 Soil Farmer of the Year announced

13th May 2016

Clive
Bailye, an arable farmer from Staffordshire has won the UK Soil Farmer of the
Year, organised by Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit (FCCT) and Innovation for
Agriculture (IfA).

The
inaugural competition aimed to find farmers and growers who were engaged with,
and passionate about managing their soils in a way which supported productive
agriculture, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and built soil organic matter and
carbon.

Clive
fought off stiff competition from a talented field of farmers and growers to
take the top prize.  The panel of judges
which included scientists, industry experts, farmers and the project team were
incredibly impressed not only by the standard of entries and the diversity of
practices being trialled, but the resounding commitment of all entrants to soil
management and continuous learning.

Clive
Bailye runs a large scale arable combinable crops operation in Staffordshire,
and has spent the last six years transforming the way that he farms to focus
entirely on soil improvement.  He has
changed his cultivation strategy and his rotation which has resulted in the
development of productive soils that are far less dependent on artificial
inputs.  This has also achieved financial
savings for the business, making it more resilient against future risk and
volatility.

David
Gardener, IfA CEO explains, “Clive is a
very worthy winner in a competition that included some of the country’s leading
farmers.  His comprehensive approach to
managing soils susceptible to drought was most impressive and included a mix of
cover crops, direct drilling, spring cropping and the re-introduction of
livestock
.” 

Second
prize was awarded to Iain Tolhurst, a horticulture business from
Berkshire.  Iain impressed the judges
with his impressive knowledge and understanding of how to maximise soil
biodiversity and his innovative use of composts and green manures within his
rotation as well as his agro-forestry system. Whilst the business has been
established over 40 years, it continues to innovate, push boundaries and
educate others.

The
accolade of third prize was taken by Jeremy and Heather Dale, dairy farmers
from Shropshire.  This herd which is run
on a spring calving system, and is certified as 100% pasture fed is achieving
fantastic grassland management through attention to detail and making the use
of data.  All data on grass growth and
cow performance is logged and costs of production are scrutinised
regularly.  This is all possible, by
ensuring that the soil conditions are right to grow quality grass that supports
this production system.

Jonathan
Smith, FCCT Director said “As this was
the first time we've run the competition, we didn't expect so many good
entries. We appreciate the effort all entrants put in to this and hope to run
the competition again later this year. These farmers and growers are
demonstrating the benefits of building soil organic matter – healthier, more
productive soils, increased carbon sequestration and better yields. It's a
win-win approach, and a message we would like to spread far and wide
.”

The
top three farmers will all receive prizes of fertility building or green manure
seed from the sponsor Cotswold Seeds.

The
top three farmers will also all be hosting farm walks, where their prizes will
be presented and there will be a chance to see, understand and dig a bit deeper
into what they are doing.  The walk at
Clive Bailye’s farm will be taking place on the 13th June, from 6 –
8.30pm, and at Iain Tolhurst’s on the 8th July. Further details will be available on the FCCT website.

Another
four farmers were shortlisted, Nigel Griffiths, David Miller, David Walston and
David White who were felt to have shown exemplary soil management and were running
innovative production systems.